Brandon Fogel

Brandon Fogel

Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:38

Moot XIII, Round 2, Board 3

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Round 2, Board 3

The game ended by solo in Winter, 1908.

Austria:
Tony Prokes
(5)
10.000  
England:
Mike Morrison
(0)
0  
France:
Zachary Moore
(10)
40.000
 
Germany:
Erik van Mechelen
(8)
25.600  
Italy:
Jake Trotta
(6)
14.400  
Russia:
Tyler Waaler
(5)
10.000  
Turkey:
Matthias Moore
(0)
100  
After zero points in the first game I was glad to draw Germany. Early on, I decided it would be reasonable to offer Russia Tyler Sweden to gain a friend whilst I decided how to play the west. Having made this decision, why not go for 3 builds? After all, I wanted a big result, and was willing to risk looking big in 1901 as it might give me leverage with either France or England in 1902, depending on what they desired to do. At some point in Fall 1901 negotiations, however, with my fleet in Holland and France's (Zachary) in the English Channel, we agreed to put my fleet in the North Sea and his army into Belgium. That was the beginning of a good relationship for us. This game ended reasonably early, as Italy Jake locked up the Med, with Zachary board topping in a 5-way draw on 10, myself on 8 after a blunder failing to hold Warsaw against Tyler's well-coordinated attack.

Regrets: Not more decisively moving against Russia-at one point I might have taken Warsaw and StP in the same or consecutive years, but played too slow. Another was the good but delicate relationship with Zachary, who kept two units adjacent London, which he nicely informed me he would take in the game's final year. Obviously I'd have rather board-topped but it was my first non-0 result, so it was okay considering several things definitely went my way.

Gotta love any game that draws by 1906. This will be a quick AAR because the game was quick. I knew I was likely to be targeted, so my goal was to hopefully pick up 20-30 points and support someone else to a board top.

EARLY GAME

The east had a strange dynamic… Russia and Turkey were both newer players, Austria was on two boards, and I was leading the tournament, but in the hardest country to kill quickly. My initial thought was making it easy on Austria and pitch a long-term key where Russia would hopefully join in. That was largely successful. Russia could have exploded as he had no real enemies in the early game, but ended up staying at 7 from 02-04.

The west resolved extremely quickly – England jumped off his dots in 1903, if I remember correctly. That gave a strong FG rapid tempo across the line… tempo I did not see quickly enough.

MIDGAME

I’ve played three kinds of games as Italy. The first kind is where you face a western triple and it’s not fun unless you break it. The second kind is where I remember not to leave the Ionian and tend to have a pretty good game. The third kind is where I waltz out of the Ionian like an idiot, my tempo gets stalled, and I end up with a mediocre score. This game was the third kind of game.

France got the jump on me, swiping Tunis in 04 just as I was about to build. That proved the difference in this game and likely the tournament. If I build there, I have enough ammunition to take hold France off and grow in the east. Kudos to Zach on a well-timed move.

Instead, I had to stab Austria to stay level and double back to cover my home centers.

ENDGAME

I realized that if the FG continued making progress, a solo was likely… which is a worst-case scenario when you’re leading the tournament. I mostly negotiated over the board, and FAR formed a grand alliance to hold them back. Once FG realized they were stopped, a draw went through, and I picked up 15 points.

PLAYER FEEDBACK

Tony (Austria): Always a blast my man, thanks for holding on in the grand alliance.

Mike (England): We didn’t have a lot of opportunity to speak in this one, but I hope you had fun.

Zach (France): Very well timed on both of your stabs in this game… well deserved W and huge in winning the tournament.

Erik (Germany): On all three of your boards, you were in contention to win. Well played to have the strong alliance that you did – you read Zach much better than I did in this game. I never sensed much willingness to move on France together. I actually think you made the correct call there – if board dynamics play out differently, you likely take home a big score. Though, had you tipped me off about the move to Tunis, you would have had an easier path forward than France did – unsure if you were aware though.

Jake (Italy): How many times do we have to teach you this lesson, old man?

Tyler (Russia): Dude, really great playing with you. You’re obviously a very bright guy with big ideas. You did well to read the situation early in the east, and had you picked up a little more tempo in the west, you’re likely a strong contender to top this board. Showed a lot of good fundamentals in this one.

Mathias (Turkey): Not super fun when you’re the target, but really little you can do when 3 people want you dead. Best of luck on future boards.

A:Tony Prokes
E:Mike Morrison
F:Zachary Moore
G:Erik van Mechelen
I:Jake Trotta
R:Tyler Waaler
T:Matthias Moore

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Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:38

Moot XIII, Round 2, Board 2

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Round 2, Board 2

The game ended by draw vote in Spring, 1908.

Austria:
Chris Kelly
(8)
28.829  
England:
Dave Maletsky
(4)
7.207  
France:
Matt Sundstrom
(7)
22.072
 
Germany:
Brandon Fogel
(2)
1.802  
Italy:
Brian Shelden
(8)
28.829  
Russia:
Tony Prokes
(5)
11.261  
Turkey:
Dan Perlman
(0)
0  

This was one of those games that Jake Trotta likes to tweak me about - where I stay mostly below the radar, then slink steadily towards a modest, usually shared board-top. A superficial, one-sentence summary might be that as Italy and Austria, respectively, Brian Shelden and I recognized that it was in our mutual interest to stick together, did so for several years, and finally benefited from feuds between the other players.

But there were nuances. Brian taking Trieste in 1901 was not something I agreed to - and though we patched things up by funneling the offending army to Greece in 1902, he moved an additional army to Tyrolia, and it might only have been France’s exploratory southern foray that same year which kept Brian from further shenanigans.

Other factors that played in our favor:
— Turkey (Dan P.) having its fleets bottled up in Ankara and Constantinople made it literally helpless against a joint Austrian/Italian naval attack... so Brian & I had every incentive to stick with it.
— France (Matt S.) going south in 1902, combined with a lack of clear conflict elsewhere in the West, made Russia (Tony Prokes) fear a Western triple enough to stay neutral (and eventually join in) as Austria & Italy got the upper hand on Turkey.
— When France reversed field from Italy toward England in 1903, England (Dave Maletsky) apparently bought his survival by agreeing to work with France and Russia against Germany (Brandon, who can perhaps comment more about the dynamics at work there).
— Seeing his holdings being whittled away in 1905-06, Brandon refused to agree to a draw until France was no longer topping the board, then worked with Brian and I to ensure that happened.

A:Chris Kelly
E:Dave Maletsky
F:Matt Sundstrom
G:Brandon Fogel
I:Brian Shelden
R:Tony Prokes
T:Dan Perlman

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Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:38

Moot XIII, Round 2, Board 1

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Round 2, Board 1

The game ended by solo in Winter, 1908.

Austria:
Jorge Zhang
(0)
0  
England:
Christian Kline
(9)
0  
France:
Braden Lenz
(3)
0
 
Germany:
Jim Calabrese
(2)
0  
Italy:
Kevin O'Kelly
(2)
0  
Russia:
Ali Adib
(0)
0  
Turkey:
Cori Neslund
(18)
100 (Best Turkey)

I'm pretty sad about this game because it proves that I should really learn my lessons from previous games. I played an almost identical house game a few months ago, and in that game I survived as a 1 center Austria, but only due to a last minute (accidental?) save from Jim O'Kelley. In that game I had a difficult choice because I knew that Russia wanted to go to Galicia, and I suspected that Italy was going to Trieste. My response then was to bounce both choices, and then let Turkey into Serbia to try and incentivize Turkey to work with me. In both games, Russia was interested in working with me (at least, I thought) and couldn't due to the board position not working out. Also in both games, Turkey took the opportunity to take Greece rather than help me out with Serbia. My lessons from that game were to 1. Not resort to giving Turkey Serbia 2. Not worry too much about Galicia, because it's ok to let Russia in if needed and then pitch them on taking Rumania with the army.

This time, I decided on a similar but ultimately just as bad choice. I had a slight suspicion that Italy would open to Trieste but I got him to verbally say that he wouldn't go there, so I suppressed that intuition. Also, Ali as Russia was telling me that if I let him into Galicia, he would use it to take Rumania. So my first mistake was not letting Ali into Galicia: this would have perhaps aligned our interests more and put me in a much better position. From my last game, I should have definitely learned that Russia moving to Galicia in S01 is not necessary anti-Austrian.

My next mistake was emotional. After Kevin took Trieste, I was pretty upset by his moves. I unfortunately let this bleed into my decision making process. I remember walking away from him mid-conversation because I flat out didn't want to work with him. That was absolutely the wrong thing to do. I should have swallowed that instinct and talked about the clear RT that would probably wipe him out next if he didn't work with me. I should have been talking about the EF that was rolling the board from the other side. Instead, I didn't even attempt to make a persuasive argument but walked away. I made things worse by making the desperation pitch to Cori by asking her to take Serbia. I think that I actually solved the problem Ali was having with Cori, because my proposed solution made it very easy for Cori and Ali to work together by solving the problem of Cori being in Rum and Black Sea. So in a sense, by offering Cori Serbia I basically helped out the RT (I know that technically Serbia was forced anyway, but had Kevin and I got out stuff together and supported Serbia to hold, it would have caused a lot of tension between Ali and Cori). After this, Russia helped Italy take Vienna and Germany moved to Bohemia to help out pop the unit. Then, Turkey took Greece and Russia took Budapest to very effectively eliminate me from the game. Overall I played very poorly and made moves without thinking about the consequences.

First, a big thank you to all of the participants and organizers. You guys made me feel really welcome and I enjoyed meeting all of you! I can’t wait to hang out and play Diplomacy with you all again.

Also--shout out to everyone who participated in the social stuff. Not only was it fun, but I appreciated getting to know you outside of the game. :)

See below for my recap of the game and other thoughts.

1901 - 1903

To be honest I started out super nervous and definitely paranoid. I had been put on a board with Ali and Christian, who I already knew were both excellent players. Then I find out Jorge has a reputation for being a great player too and I was like “s***”. While I didn’t know Jim, Kevin, or Braden’s capabilities prior to the game, I was still pretty sure they would also be good players. Initially my goal was simply either to (i) not be the first person out, or (ii) at least not go out before 1904. Seems stupid now, but that’s what I thought.

It was lucky for me that I had been assigned Turkey as I’d already played a F2F game as that country and done very well (second only to Jake Trotta). With Turkey I felt like I could at least accomplish one of my two above goals. Thus given who I was playing with, and what people had already assumed about me, I decided that my best tactic was to play up my newness. More on this later.

For the first two years I was convinced that Russia, Austria and Italy had decided to singularly attack me and take my dots between them. When Italy opened into Trieste people started saying ‘lepanto’ and I both didn’t know what that was, and also felt that it confirmed my belief that an attack was imminent. This belief probably had something to do with Jorge’s early elimination since I would not believe him until it was too late.

Ali and I had already agreed on some kind of alliance which he kept even after I stabbed him for BLA pretty much right out the gate. Given his club championship win I felt like he could easily overcome me if I didn’t have an advantage. We talked about this and he seemed to accept that--I am curious what his thoughts were during this period though.

Up until 1904 I mostly just played along with what Ali and Kevin were saying to me. I deliberately misordered a fleet to Greece instead of an army which I was sure would tip Ali off that I was at least somewhat uncooperative. However, even after the stab and misorder both he and Kevin must have thought I wasn’t a threat and so they turned their backs to me in order to move west which left them open to the horrors to come.

1904

Stab year. Kevin and Ali had moved out of my way, giving me free access to a ridiculous number of their dots which I could take with one move. In hindsight I should have waited until fall--but I guess I decided to be a bit reckless and thus stabbed in the spring.

Honestly, huge props to Ali and Kevin. They really took this stab in stride and proved that they are excellent sportsmen. I owe them for sure. If I ever decide to print “I’m your ally and I’ll help you win a game with no backstabs” coupons they will both get one [offer not valid in tournaments].

At this point there wasn’t going to be much that Russia or Italy could do to stop me from progressing, especially considering that Austria was out already. They decided to assist me as much as possible--which Ali did until he was eliminated. Kevin stuck with me for a while until he and the other players realized I was likely to solo unless they were more proactive in protecting their dots.

Around this time (or perhaps a year before) Braden (France) tried to get me to help him finish off Italy. I think it would have been a good choice if I hadn’t thought there might be a possibility of a win for me. Braden and I probably could have topped the board together in a draw if I had started to cooperate with him at this point in the game.

1906 - 1908

Things were going well. Christian was doing his best to ally the other players to stop me from getting a solo. Unfortunately for him, Jim and Braden were tied up with him in the west. They were so clumped together I think it was hard for them to get in any real kind of position to stop me.

Jim seemed to vacillate between who he was supporting, so I pushed in and took some of his dots. At this point I was pretty sure I could get a solo, and when I took StP that was the end.

Thoughts

Going back to my above note, I knew playing up my newness as a tactic wasn’t going to fly for long--and certainly at this point it’s a dead duck (as it should be). The reason why I chose to go that route is because I noticed that across the board (prior to the solo) everyone I played with believed that I was so new that I couldn’t be a threat. This was regardless of the fact that in my previous F2F games I had not done poorly at all. It didn’t seem to occur to anyone until it was too late that I was misrepresenting my understanding of the game, likely since my behavior fulfilled their initial expectations. That blind spot is what allowed me to position myself for a solo.

While initially I felt like it wasn’t ‘my’ win since it was gained by taking advantage of other people’s ‘kind’ assumptions, I now totally feel like it’s my win. Just because someone is new doesn’t mean that they aren’t a solid competitor (or ally). That underestimation was too good to pass up, so even though it will never work again (and shouldn’t have worked in the first place) I’m glad I did it.

Now I’m looking forward to playing games that aren’t clouded by a perception of me that isn’t true. I am new, and I am learning, but I know enough to be a great choice for an ally or a vicious backstabbing weasel of a competitor. Jim was right--I am a monster. ;)

Players

Jorge: It was fun playing with you--I’m sorry we didn’t get to play together longer. I’m really looking forward to being on a board with you again! Hopefully next time we’ll be in a better position to support each other.

Christian: Awesome game--good job trying to rally the troops into stopping me. In 1907 I definitely felt some twinges of doubt on if I could solo.

Braden: You’re a funny dude! I legitimately think that an alliance with you would have also paid off. Hopefully sometime in the future we can take another stab at it (haha--pun intended).

Jim: Thank you for being such a great player! I should have worked harder on my communication skills with you. I think if we had been on the same page more often we would have seen better results.  

Kevin: Wow--you are such a good sportsman. Your attitude the whole game was A++. I still have a lot of respect for you as a player--even though you turned on me in the end (and perhaps because you did). ;)

Ali: Not sure how I can truly express my gratitude for your help in this game. You were at the first game I shadowed and I knew you were a great player just from watching. Seriously I am looking forward so much to playing with you again--whether we’re allies or enemies I know it’s going to be fun! Next time we meet up I would love to hear your perspective on this game!

A:Jorge Zhang
E:Christian Kline
F:Braden Lenz
G:Jim Calabrese
I:Kevin O'Kelly
R:Ali Adib
T:Cori Neslund

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Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:38

Moot XIII, Round 1, Board 3

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Round 1, Board 3

The game ended by solo in Winter, 1913.

Austria:
Matthias Moore
(0)
0  
England:
Dan Perlman
(0)
0  
France:
Jake Trotta
(18)
100
(Best France) 
Germany:
Braden Lenz
(0)
0  
Italy:
Matt Sundstrom
(3)
0  
Russia:
Jorge Zhang
(10)
0  
Turkey:
Erik van Mechelen
(3)
0  

My first solo! I’ve almost soloed before and have come a long way since getting to 13 dots for the first time and announcing to the board “I’m going for it!” Pro-tip: don’t announce your intentions to solo.

EARLY GAME

Both France and England seemed open to working with me. They pitched a triple, but Braden and I decided on getting him into the North Sea in 01 instead. I went the FG route because a triple meant a 1v1 tactical battle between myself and Matt Sundstrom. That would be a very fun adventure to explore on a non-tournament board. Italy seemed keen to go east, so my early game was driven by 2 objectives.

-In the west, gain a strong ally (Germany) and ideally still have that alliance with me in the North Sea eventually

-In the east, outpace Italy to either prop him up vs Turkey or, if possible, get the drop on him.

In the east, Italy and Austria got their key stuffed in 01, then in 02 Italy and Turkey patched up to kill Austria. This created a lovely dynamic where Russia was deciding whether he wanted to work with Turkey or Italy. That dynamic not only means Russian pressure in the north, it likely means Italy will be too occupied to head toward Iberia early.

This provided the time to allow the west to resolve in my favor. Via a convoy to Wales, I began picking off English dots. England chose to commit more of his units to fighting Germany, and Russian indifference then hostility meant that I had an easier time making progress.

THE MIDGAME

Due to early DMZ’s and displays of trust with Germany, we had established a level of trust that allowed me to be in a great position to stab. I knew I could pick up two and position at any time. I held off on it for a few seasons, using it as leverage with Russia and Turkey.

In the east, Russia sided with Turkey, and Italy was pushed back. As soon as Italy went down to four, I offered support whenever he wanted it. Italy essentially directed my units to wall off the Turk from 05-07. This escalated tension – Turkey had nowhere to grow, and Russia wasn’t keeping pace with me up north. I encouraged Turkish stabs and promised we’d divide Italy once Russia was weakened, but Turkey never made sufficient progress.

I stabbed Germany in 1906. Russia, frustrated with Turkish antagonism, pulled his fleets from the north, meaning that I would eventually get all of Scandinavia. This gave me a free tactical walk to 14. To pick up the remaining 4 dots of Tunis, STP, Munich, and Berlin, I had to negotiate.

THE ENDGAME 

It had become clear that I was going to top the board. In speaking with Erik, I said that I’ll get to 16 or so, but had no chance at 18… thus, he might as well get as much as he could. You play to win the game/tournament, after all! By encouraging Turkey to play to win, he destabilized a locked up Mediterranean and stabbed Italy. This allowed me to get position to take Tunis. 15.

Once I was clearly going to take Tunis, I went up to Braden and told him that I was absolutely going to solo… but he could make it go a lot faster. The grand alliance did not do a good enough job of telling him he was important and needed to stay onside, so he went with it. Though he waffled, the “let’s finish this” pitch continued until the end of the game, netting me Munich and Berlin. 17.

STP was actually the easiest to take… it just took forever because I kept mis-ordering F-ECH to MAO instead of North Sea. Once I got my fleets over, I took it. 18.

WHY DID I SOLO

In a word, negotiations. Solid tactics, a strong alliance, and good strategic play got me to 14. What put me over the top was maintaining fluidity around key supply centers on the line. If Turkey and Russia get on the same page sooner the solo doesn’t happen. If the grand alliance does a better job of selling Germany the solo doesn’t happen. The board dynamics were off just enough that I was able to capitalize.

PLAYER FEEDBACK

Mathias (Austria): The key is a trust exercise. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off here. Not much that can be done about it.

Dan (England): Great playing with you, just ended up feeling I had better odds with Braden. It’s a tough situation when a strong FG hits you, especially when Russia doesn’t hop on board to help right away. Look forward to seeing you on another board.

Jake (France): Your last two french results… a 1902 elimination and a solo. Weird flex, but ok.

Braden (Germany): First, I am forever grateful and am reclining on the pillow we discussed now. Was very impressed by your strong alliance play in this game… you just left yourself a little extended tactically, but absolutely showed that you are a strong partner. Look forward to playing together again soon.

Matt (Italy): Great to be on a board together again, and great working together.

Jorge (Russia): I thought we had a really strong partnership in the north… certainly negotiated well. What I admire about your game is how smoothly you play. Let’s do it again soon!

Erik (Turkey): Lot of fun playing together on this board. You took a big risk working with Italy in 1902 and that really paid off – very impressed with that early board read.

I really enjoy playing Russia, and I generally love to open North. In this game though, I didn't know my neighbors very well so I figured it would be best to play it safe. I talked with Austria and we arranged a DMZ in Galicia, and then talked with Erik and arranged a bounce in the Black Sea. When it came down to write my moves, I decided to hold in Warsaw as my spidey senses were tingling. As it turns out, Austria broke the DMZ in Galicia and moved to Rumania, so it made my decisions very easy. I grabbed Austria, who basically said that he had purposely lied but that I wasn't the target of the attack. I wasn't sure what that meant at first, but eventually I pieced together that it was a Key Lepanto. I told Matt and Erik flat out that because of this stab I would not work with Austria, which I think convinced the two of them to eliminate Austria with me. We were able to do this fairly quickly as Matthias was a bit out of position. It took a long time, but I eventually convinced Erik to DMZ the Black Sea. I didn't want to stab him after he decided to trust me with this gesture, so I decided to head north for a northern game. I built a few fleets and pounced on Germany.

I think that this was the wrong way to approach the North. In the North I had not committed to any one side and let Germany/England fight each-other by not taking Norway from England. I figured it would help me later on to have a weakened England and Germany, but all it ended up doing was making it very hard for me and Germany to work together when we needed to. Braden (Germany) really wanted to work with me in the beginning of the game and even gave me Sweden, and I returned that favor by flatly refusing to work with him against England. Later down the line I was actively hurting him by helping England into Denmark. So naturally, he refused to work with me when I went to him and asked to work against Jake later on in the game, citing that I should have worked with him sooner (and he's right about that). So when I made my move onto Silesia, Prussia, and Bohemia Braden had already prepared for it and defended it completely. I was going to make no progress in the North.

Eventually there came a point where Erik wasn't making any progress in the Med against Italy, partially due to Jake's help, and so Erik took Rumania off of me. I think that I overreacted here and basically started a war, when this likely would have been better resolved diplomatically. I was surprised when Erik attacked me, but honestly I should have been reading the board and seeing that I needed to talk to him to get on the same page. This war lasted a few years and put us in a very tough position to stop a French solo.

Overall, I learned a lot of lessons from this game. One big takeaway was that when Germany gives you Sweden, you probably should work with them. Also, you should always be checking in with your allies even when you are playing on different sides of the board. Perhaps if I'd been paying more attention I would have seen that Italy had Turkey stopped. Finally, don't let your guard down in negotiations with someone on the other side of the board. I think Jake was controlling my subconscious through negotiation a couple of times, and I didn't even realize it until later.

I played as Turkey. After partially blocking a Key Lepanto, I offered Italy (Matt Sundstrom) Greece to vacate the Aegean and worked with Russia (Jorge) to eliminate Austria (Matthias). Meanwhile France (Jake) and Germany (Braden) were progressing to England's (Dan) detriment. My best position was at 7 centers (Russia was on 9, and France on 7) with good relationships with remaining players on the board. I made the first bad move in the game-despite Andrew's warning to avoid this in Chris Martin's WDC 2016 recap videos-and 1 center stabbed Russia for Rumania and the Black Sea (sometimes you just have to experience making the bad play to understand??). When Russia (Jorge) pulled two units in the north, rightfully so, I was out-tacticked by Jorge in the ensuing years. Meanwhile Jake made good progress in the west, eventually soloing.

Regrets: Not realizing I'd avoided being an early target (Bul-Ser bounced Italian Tri-Ser leaving Italy in Trieste and Austria with a single build), which was good, and seeing that a three-way (France/Russia/Turkey) or five-way draw (with Italy and Germany) was probably a decent outcome for Game 1 in the tournament. FAR better than inducing the solo. I take my share of the major responsibility for that happening, but of course taking nothing away from Jake's skill in converting (and encouraging me to stab Jorge.

A:Matthias Moore
E:Dan Perlman
F:Jake Trotta
G:Braden Lenz
I:Matt Sundstrom
R:Jorge Zhang
T:Erik van Mechelen

F01 board picture is not available.

S13 board picture is not available.

F13 board picture is not available.

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Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:37

Moot XIII, Round 1, Board 2

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Round 1, Board 2

The game ended by draw vote in Spring, 1908.

Austria:
Ali Adib
(6)
14.286  
England:
Kevin O'Kelly
(9)
32.143 (Best England) 
France:
Brandon Fogel
(10)
39.683  
Germany:
Tyler Waaler
(1)
0.397  
Italy:
Brian MacWilliams
(0)
0  
Russia:
Brian Shelden
(3)
3.571  
Turkey:
David Spanos
(5)
9.921  
A:Ali Adib
E:Kevin O'Kelly
F:Brandon Fogel
G:Tyler Waaler
I:Brian MacWilliams
R:Brian Shelden
T:David Spanos

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Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:37

Moot XIII, Round 1, Board 1

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Round 1, Board 1

The game ended by draw in Spring, 1915.

Austria:
Zachary Moore
(10)
32.680 (Best Austria) 
England:
Brian Shelden
(1)
0.327  
France:
Chris Kelly
(10)
32.680
 
Germany:
Mike Morrison
(2)
1.307  
Italy:
Christian Kline
(10)
32.680 (Best Italy) 
Russia:
Dave Maletsky
(0)
0  
Turkey:
Jim Calabrese
(1)
0.327  

My game as France began by blundering into 3 builds in 1901. As Germany, Mike M. had misordered in the spring, and a hasty, botched read of the board made me think I had a chance at crippling him by sneaking into Munich in the fall while England stood him off in Holland - which Brian S. agreed to do. While writing my order, though, I realized the unit in Berlin had literally nothing to do but cover Munich, so I changed my move to Belgium without having a chance to inform England. I thought I’d make it up to Brian by waiving the build, but then I realized his army in Edinburgh meant he’d certainly build F London... so I had little choice but to build F Brest to cover myself. And so what I originally planned as an E/F alliance became an inevitable E/F conflict.

Growing to 6 units in 1901 naturally jolted England and Germany into allying against me, stalling my growth for the next several years. Then again, those same 6 units - and a sustained nonaggression pact with Christian Kline in Italy - enabled me to more or less fend them off in the short term, although Belgium changed hands several times in 1904-1907 even as I landed an army in Britain. Meanwhile, Russia fell to pressure from Germany in the north and Austria in the south, enabling Mike to expand to 9 centers, with German fleets swinging south toward Iberia as a quietly growing Italy had one lingering in the Western Mediterranean.

As it turned out, though, Christian (and his game-long Austrian ally, Zach) came to my rescue, if for no other reason than Germany becoming the larger immediate threat. Even as Mike forced fleets into the English Channel and Mid-Atlantic Ocean in spring 1908, he was losing home centers to an Austrian-Italian assault from the south - and that lurking Italian fleet in the Western Med helped chase him out of MAO as well. The 1909-1911 period saw Austria & Italy supporting French armies into German supply centers while my finally freed-up fleets enabled me to outmaneuver England, ensuring its fall and setting up my unit count to grow into the mid-teens.

Then it came time to repay the favors I’d received. There had been no detailed agreement in advance, but Christian had started lobbying in negotiations for a three-way 10-center tie between me, himself, and Zach, even though (or perhaps because) Austria had never had more than 6 centers through 1911. I griped about this more than once, especially since Brian and Mike were vacating their centers in my theatre & offering to help me solo - or at least get me as close as they could. But I *did* think that Christian (and to some extent Zach) deserved some consideration for their earlier help... and as I heard that Jake was in fact soloing as France on a neighboring board, any selfish desires I might have harbored about winning “best France” became irrelevant. So I agreed to the even split in hopes of ending the game as quickly and amicably as we could.

Strains developed, though, as Christian proposed convoluted methods of achieving a tie that involved me giving him centers in Iberia, then relying on him to convey other centers to Zach. Fearing that the fabled Scorpion might be seeking leverage for a potential last-second stab, I refused - hurriedly reinforcing my southern flank and eventually figuring out a way to eliminate the middleman, abandoning Berlin, Kiel, Holland and finally Denmark directly to Austria to boost his unit count.

Could I have soloed? 16 centers was clearly within reach, but getting the other two (out of Munich, Warsaw, or Moscow) seemed unlikely if Italy/Austria kept cooperating. In different circumstances (such as a defined end time, and/or Jake not soloing), I would have gone for it and at least earned a sizable board-top. At least, though, I should have prodded Christian for a less-even division of centers (with us getting 11 or 12 centers apiece, and Austria whatever he could manage), which he and Zach both indicated afterwards they might have accepted.

A:Zachary Moore
E:Brian Shelden
F:Chris Kelly
G:Mike Morrison
I:Christian Kline
R:Dave Maletsky
T:Jim Calabrese

F01 board picture is not available.

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Sunday, 28 April 2019 09:43

Moot XIII, Round 3, Board 2

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Round 3, Board 2

The game ended by draw vote in Spring 1907.

Austria:
Tyler Waaler
(8)
23.529  
England:
Jim Calabrese
(1)
0.368  
France:
Erik van Mechelen
(9)
29.779
 
Germany:
Cori Neslund
(0)
0  
Italy:
Dan Perlman
(1)
0.368  
Russia:
Jake Trotta
(10)
36.765 (Best Russia) 
Turkey:
Chris Kelly
(5)
9.191  
Brandon and David Maletsky (and others?) sat out the last game so that the rest of us could play three games, which was big of them. I believe Brandon was on about 40 points and very much still in contention.

I drew an amazing early-game position, as France with Cori as Germany (she solo'd as Turkey in Game 2) and Jake as Russia (soloing in Game 1). Jake needed to do better than Cori to win the tournament (depending on what happened with Zachary on the other board) whilst Cori could win if she scored 15 points more than Jake.

In the mid-game after England and Germany were eliminated, I wanted to support Austria Tyler from Tyrolia into Russian-held Munich from both Ruhr and Burgundy, and also into Tunis. He convinced me to wait one more year to do it, and I 100% wanted this to happen and 1,000% blundered/misordered…my support orders read Ruh S Mun - Tyr (!) and Bur S Mun - Tyr (!). That was devastating. Tyler was equally upset with me because we'd both worked hard to carefully create that opportunity.

To my eyes, Austria Tyler had kept good relations with Russia and Turkey and had risen to 7 centers. With Munich and Tunis he would have gone to 9, with France (me) on 10, and Russia on 9 (England and Italy both on 1, and Turkey on ~5/6).

One of my takeaways from the tournament is that it is easy to beat oneself up about mistakes made and opportunities missed. This was definitely one of those, because I'd been talking frequently with Tyler and I felt he'd been playing a great game and he was ready to work together toward a big draw for both of us. Maybe he would have even won. Or perhaps I might have. Maybe Chris Kelly would have changed his mind about "wanting to end the game early" and who knows how the four of us would have sorted out the balance of the game.

As it was we did get Tyler safely into Munich the very next turn (a year too late), but Jake had brought another army from War-Sil and had out-played me in the North to reduce me to 9 centers from my peak at 11. Chris Kelly was also into the Western Med and if anything from here participating in a draw with 9 centers was lucky for me.

The game ended in a draw with Jake board-topping on 10.

Regrets: Already stated above ?

Congratulations toZachary ,Jake , andCori on their solos and podium finishes!

Alright…

That's my brief analysis, just from my own perspective and while trying not to steal any other players' destinies.

Now that I've got that in the open I can let it all go and look forward to the next opportunities to play with all of you. I learned something from each of your playing styles and approaches to negotiation, which made me appreciate the game even more.

Thanks!

This one won’t be as long as the last--hard to write a bunch when you’re out before anything juicy happens.

Even before countries were drawn for this game, I had decided to go into it with the intention of picking someone to support to a win. After an insane solo (and the accompanied stress) the day before, I felt like I’d already made the mark I wanted to make. Other folks talked about how if I played a good game I could beat Jake and try for tournament champion--but as surprised as some of you may be to hear it, I wasn’t interested. To some extent I believe in paying dues, and going further than I already had felt inappropriate.

Anyway, after the first move in which Jake tried to open into Silesia (but I had been tipped off by France) he made it clear to me in a fairly blunt statement that he was coming to wipe me out. His reasoning was sound, and while I was disappointed in my likely short game and couldn’t come up with a good response to him at all, I didn’t fault him for his choice (though I did wonder if he had ever considered asking me to be an ally instead).

Frankly, I simply didn’t have the experience (or allies) to stop him--and I’m not convinced that stopping him was even possible given what other folks were doing on the board. Since my major ally, Erik (France), had opened directly into my other potential ally, Jim (England), with a move to ENG there was no hope of a three way partnership. The move pushed Jim into being an ally with Jake--and that was that.

My lack of experience really showed in this game. I had no idea how to play Germany with such an aggressive Russia, especially not without support from England. When England took Denmark with Russian support I gave up and told France to move in and take my dots with the hope that he could stand against the ER (RE?) partnership. England was eventually wiped out and Russia/France both took a portion of the pie in a draw.

Players

I don’t have any individual comments for you guys in reference to the game since I wasn’t around long enough. Overall, I really liked playing with you and I would be happy to meet on a board again sometime! Though perhaps not as Germany...

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

This one stings. Best Russia is great, and I came into the tournament thinking if I slow down and enjoy myself, I’ll have a great chance to win. This was the first game that I got myself sped up. As a result of that, I took a draw in this game when I really shouldn’t have. The final margin between first and second was 21 points… essentially 2 or 3 dots. I think I left at least 2 or 3 dots on this board... and a good shot at a solo.

If this game continues, I pop both French fleets in the North. I pick up Denmark and Sweden, potentially at the cost of Kiel and Holland. But at that point I have 4 northern fleets with no resistance. France can rebuild back home, but it’s a matter of time until I get all 3 English dots and get Kiel back. That alone gets me to 14/15.

In terms of a solo shot, Holland and Belgium are likely mine eventually as well. I’ve certainly got enough material to make a play towards Iberia… especially with an English fleet in behind. It really depends on how well Austria and France get along. Austria was in a bit of chaotic space turning on Turkey… and was unlikely to make much progress without my support. I may lose Sev or Rum, but am unlikely to have losses further than that. So unless I made a blunder, worst case is 13, best case is 18. But 13 may have been enough to put me past Zach.

Of course, I only got in that position because of a critical misorder… otherwise this whole discussion is a “moot point.” On to the recap…

EARLY GAME

Heading into the day, I was 15 points ahead of Cori, and the only way I would lose to tournament was if Corey passed me or if someone on the other board had a huge top or solo. The dream draw in this scenario is Russia to Cori’s Germany, so when that actually happened, I was ecstatic.

In the east, I only had to survive. I laid out my incentives to Chris in Turkey and Tyler in Austria, which led to about as strong of a RAT open as I’ve seen – SUCCESSFUL DMZs in Galicia and Black. In the west, I had to kill Germany. Cori handled our negotiations like she didn’t believe she could win. That was either very smart posturing, or genuine humility. I’ll address that further in my player feedback.

France took the channel in 01, which brought England strongly to my side. I got 2 builds and used one on fleet south coast. Taking out Germany was only a matter of time. The key moment was when France successfully convoyed up. Jim and I had talked about bouncing that potential move, but he decided on a higher risk move to Denmark that succeeded, but lost him Norway in the process. That essentially sealed his long-term fate, and set the west as a race between myself and France.

MID/LATE GAME

My biggest regret outside of taking the draw is not doing a good enough job managing the AT side of the RAT. They were making great progress on Italy and, due to my success in the North, could have made better progress on France. They decided to try to swipe Rumania at one point, which was the result of some negotiation breakdown and only heightened tensions. According to France’s AAR, Austria was trying to make a move on me as well as Turkey. This is likely because the AT stopped being efficient. Had I done a better job providing recommendations for how the AT could continue, the RAT may have continued.

In the north, France was a solo threat if I did not win out tactically. Fortunately, I won on most of the guessing games with France as Germany went out. I managed to pick up Munich, and Berlin. England became a pirate and landed in Portugal – a critical development. The key moment of the game was the failed French support of Austria into Munich. That allowed me to keep Munich while taking Kiel from France, turning the tides in the north. If that doesn’t happen, France doesn’t pull a fleet in the north, and it becomes a heavily contested three horse race.

A NOTE ON LONG TERM ATs

I’m a huge fan of the RAT because all three countries take on a good amount of risk, but the payoff is high. Russia has to deal with the north, Austria has to navigate early discomfort, and Turkey’s tempo is slow as it moves past Italy. The story of this game, in my mind, is the AT breaking up. Most long-term ATs do, but I usually think they shouldn’t as the stabs are often too small and inconclusive. If I’m Austria here, I wait until Turkey has already given me Naples and is justttt about to take Iberia to stab. That clears the entire south for your taking, but because the stab came too early, the east was likely to stay muddy. This ended up feeling an awful lot like my board at Tempest with Jay Heumann a couple years back.

PLAYER FEEDBACK

Tyler (Austria): You played very well on both boards I saw you on. It was a pleasure playing with you, and your apparent scheming shows some real good instincts. Once you get a little more seasoning and timing, you’re going to be wrecking boards.

Jim (England): You were a wonderful ally and it was a joy playing together. We could have had a lot of fun had this game continued, or if I had been able to assist you enough sooner. Bad break on the guesses, but looking forward to seeing you again.

Erik (France): I’ll give you broader feedback on your tournament – you were a strong contender on every board. The things that prevented you from topping each board were either small tactical errors or things beyond your control. For your first tournament, that’s an excellent place to be, and I’m eager to see how your game develops over the next year.

Dan (Italy): Nothing you could do here, buddy. Great seeing you on the board, looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Jake (Russia): You’ve won second prize in a beauty contest.

Chris (Turkey): I did not talk much about how wonderful our alliance was. This was our 18thboard playing together, and this is the first time we’ve worked together the whole game! Except that one season you attacked me! I’m proud of us except that one season!

A:Tyler Waaler
E:Jim Calabrese
F:Erik van Mechelen
G:Cori Neslund
I:Dan Perlman
R:Jake Trotta
T:Chris Kelly

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Sunday, 28 April 2019 09:25

Moot XIII Results

Moot XIII featured 3 solos in 8 boards, a record for Moot when not doubling as WDC.  All were first-time soloists, including one playing in only her third ever face-to-face game.  The title of Alpha Weasel was taken by Zachary Moore, a first-time tournament winner. Zach topped two of his boards alone and shared a three-way top on his third.  Jake Trotta finished in 2nd place, with a solo, a board-top, and a 3rd place finish.  Cori Neslund, entering the tournament with only 2 face-to-face games under her belt, finished in 3rd place with a solo and an elimination.

Sunday, 28 April 2019 09:25

Moot XIII, Round 3, Board 1

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Round 3, Board 1

This game by solo in Winter, 1908.

Best Germany

Austria:
Tony Prokes
(0)
0  
England:
Matt Sundstrom
(0)
0  
France:
Brian MacWilliams
(4)
0
 
Germany:
Zachary Moore
(20)
100 (Best Germany) 
Italy:
Matthias Moore
(0)
0  
Russia:
Christian Kline
(2)
0  
Turkey:
Kevin O'Kelly
(8)
0  

This game was straightforward after the early game, so I’ll spend all my time there:

All tournament long, I had made it my goal to spend less time talking, and more time trying to understand what people were telling me, both vocally and through their body language. France (Brian) seemed to brush me off in our first conversation but looked engaged when he was talking to England (Matt Sundstrum). I took that as a sign that I should buddy up with Russia and Italy.

It was then that I made perhaps my biggest error of the tournament. I called Christian (Russia) over to me and told him that I would love for him to get involved in the north, and he would have my full support up there. He seemed receptive.

Great, right?

Just one problem: at the end of the conversation, I looked up and realized that I had been talking to MATT SUNDSTRUM the whole time! Embarrassed, I grabbed the real Christian and had an identical conversation.

As luck would have it, Sundstrum (England) listened to the advice I had accidently given him and sailed his fleets into Barents and then St.P in 02. This earned Christine’s wrath, which meant I had his support in the north as I had wanted all along. Failing upwards if I’ve ever seen it.

Meanwhile, Christian had dropped a fleet into the English Channel, infuriating Brian, who suddenly became more interested in talking to me. In Fall ’02, Brian leaked a fleet into Irish Sea, while I took Belgium and North Sea off Matt in one fell swoop. 

I spent the next couple of years picking up easy gains off England while the rest of the board couldn’t seem to stop provoking each other. I’d be interested to hear from Kevin O’Kellly (Turkey)’s perspective what went down there. All I know is that despite a lot of talking, there was never a single cooperative effort between two or more players to prevent me from getting 18 centers. In fact, during my run of the board, every single player except Brian offered to support me into somebody else’s center at least once.

Takeaway from this game:

--Listen and watch more, talk less 

A:Tony Prokes
E:Matt Sundstrom
F:Brian MacWilliams
G:Zachary Moore
I:Matthias Moore
R:Christian Kline
T:Kevin O'Kelly

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