Founding Weasels Jim O’Kelley and Eric Brown took the top two spots with a rare but effective I/R alliance in game No. 88, played Jan. 30 at Pete McNamara’s home in Evanston.
This was my 40th game with the club, and the opening was one of the wildest I’ve seen. In the West, France (May Ling Chong) sort of oscillated among her neighbors, never sticking with a strategy for long. England (Pete McNamara) kept grabbing dots and building fleets. And Germany (Peter Yeargin) learned that logic doesn’t always apply.
The East, meanwhile, featured intense scrambling by Italy (Eric Brown) and Turkey (Paul Pignotti), including a game-changing turn in Fall 1902 when Paul nearly wriggled out of the noose by persuading Eric–whose Lepanto had been discouraged by a French onslaught–to turn on Austria (Amanda Baumgartner).
The players in both hemispheres, with brief exceptions, concentrated in their hemispheres, and as a result, the stalemate line never became a factor. Italy and Russia (Jim O’Kelley) crossed it decisively in 1907 and 1908.
It was an enjoyable game. Of course, it’s easy to say that when you have a good result, but the opening, when at times, everyone’s future was in doubt, really was thrilling. It’s that excitement that keeps many of us, myself included, coming back for more.
The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1910 turn. The final center counts were:
I hope the players will contribute endgame statements in the comments section below. Remember to log in first; when you don’t log in, the system limits your character count.
You can check out the supply center chart here. The club standings also have been updated. Click Club Standings in the Links menu. O’Kelley vaulted past McNamara and Yeargin into fourth place, and Brown hit seventh with only two results.
This Post Has 14 Comments
Playing Italy, I had no intention or desire to head west. However, France (May Ling) came for me as part of what intially looked like a Western Triple. She was intially so successful that when Turkey (Paul P)suggested I stab Austria, it actually made a sort of crazy sense. with his help I took Greece and simultaneously moved from Piedmont to Tyrolia, and with my builds put an army in Ven as well as a fleet in naples.
I still lost Tunis to France thereafter.
This stab was the critical turn-around. I was in trouble so I gambled and it ended up working.
One other enjoyable tidbit is that we were working on a hard deadline. On the last fall turn (1910) we knew it would be the last. Luckily, i had moved one addtional army east on the previous turn (to trieste), because Jim O (Russia) hit me from every direction. This was preservation on his part — the idea being I couldn’t stab him without losing something in return. Without that army, it wouldn’t have been simply preservative.
The expectation was that the game would end 14-12-8. happily, the good guys managed to slip into brest on the last turn by surprise, so the actual end was 14-13-7. 13-13-8 would have been more satisfying, but Jim always gets his dots, doesn’t he?
Also want to thank Pete, great hosting. I scarfed three huge pieces of pizza in about four minutes — I’ve been in a weight loss competition and sort of lost my head. (Might have been then large supply of flat tire beers available). Luckily, my body seems to have been shocked by all those carbs and must not have absorbed them, as I am still on track in that contest.
If you checked out the Power Stats I posted yesterday or have paid any attention to our game summaries, you know that Russia has had a tough go of it in our club. It’s been eliminated in one-third of our games, more than every other power except Austria. And it’s average center count is a paltry 4.544, better than only Italy and Austria and more than three-tenths worse than fourth-place Germany.
Having topped this board as Russia, I offer the following as a service to future Russian players and in an effort to restore Russia to its former spot as my favorite country.
[b]A Tsar’s Survival Guide[/b]
by Jim O’Kelley
1) You need a reasonable German player. (Unfortunately, you can’t necessarily check off each of these items on your own. For this one, you need some help.) A reasonable German player may position himself to bounce you, but he’ll do so only if it aligns with his strategic interests and/or he thinks you’re having your way in the south. If the German thinks it’s his job to deny you Sweden (meaning he’s unreasonable), then you could be headed for trouble. Germany (Peter Yeargin) actually bounced me in this game, but his decision was based on the facts he had gathered about Rumania. I can live with that. And my fault for not swearing Austria (Amanda Baumgartner) to secrecy about her support for my move to Rum.
2) Discourage E/G cooperation. I didn’t need to be too active here, as the West was a clusterf$#!. But I did conspire with England (Pete McNamara) in Spring 1902 to allow Germany to move his fleets to Swe and Den while simultaneously moving the British fleets in such a manner that would allow us to take Swe (me with his support) and Den (him on his own) in the Fall. Short-term interest: A dot for me. Long-term interest: It was now going to be more difficult for E/G to cooperate. Even though the dot-hungry P-Mac stole Sweden from me in 1903, I still had accomplished my long-term objective.
3) Keep the Turks out of Armenia. I’ll discuss my opening in a separate post. It’s best to do this through Diplomacy, but if necessary, don’t be afraid to open with Sev-Arm.
4) Don’t lock yourself into bouncing in Galicia. Sometimes you’ll find an Austrian who would prefer to move elsewhere. If you think you can trust him (or her, as was the case in this game), let him. And don’t go blasting into Galicia just because you think you can get there. Your biggest problem is likely to be Turkey, so until you’re certain of his friendship, or at least his neutrality, you don’t need to tick off Austria.
Hopefully, these four points will help you toward a better result the next time you pluck the white block.
So, my opening.
In the third round at the 2006 WACCon (a tournament I went on to win), I was Turkey and agreed to a Black Sea bounce. I sent my armies to Bul and Con. Orders were read, and imagine my surprise as all three of my moves succeeded…as Russia moved his armies to Ukr and Sev and ordered Sev-Arm! I was eventually eliminated by A/R and their Italian lackey.
On Saturday, I retrieved that opening from my mental notes and chose to play it against Paul Pignotti’s Turkey. And I kind of liked it. Here’s why:
1) My presence in Armenia shifted Turkey’s focus away from the Balkans toward the corner of the board. He had to cover Ankara, and he wanted that fleet out of his hair. That bought time for my Italian ally to deploy his Lepanto. (Sadly, a misguided French incursion distracted him, and he convoyed to Greece with Turkish support instead.)
2) If my move to Armenia had succeeded only in bouncing the Turks, well, I think I’d rather concede the Black Sea than Armenia, especially if I’m confident in Austria’s support. And you better be if you try this opening.
3) With a Turkish fleet in the Black Sea, Russia has a stronger case for Sweden. A reasonable Germany who doesn’t do his homework in the south and/or doesn’t plan to blitz Scandinavia with England should let you have Sweden. Two builds are better than one. (The German player in this game, Peter Yeargin, was reasonable, but he was also good enough to sniff out the Austrian support for my move to Rumania. No Sweden for me. Rats.)
4) With the fleet in Armenia, I had to take Rumania with an army, and an army there is so much more flexible than a fleet. It’s pretty tough to change tack with F Rum. A Rum can do so easily, yet Austria has no complaint because you’ve committed against Turkey.
5) And if you want to change tack, you can arrange to have the fleet annihilated by the Turk and rebuild it. (Although Paul and I discussed annihilating my fleet in Spring 1902, his decision to do so was unilateral. Still, those two army builds in Winter 1902 came in handy!)
I’m not sure how much this opening contributed to my success in Game No. 88, but it was a fun opening to play and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to try again under the right circumstances.
Ahh Germany…the motherland. Deutschland. Easily my weakest country, but I think that’s understandable. I believe my best finish as Germany is 6 or 7 centers. It’s always been a perplexing country to me because you never really know where to go with it. The flexibility it provides a player is unmatched, but as so many have said, the abundance of supply centers surrounding you is both a blessing and an unabashed curse.
The dangers of an English/French alliance are always a serious concern to any German player. In addition, a Russian player who concentrates northward can also be a major thorn in your side. It seems in this club though, Russia doesn’t often have the luxury of such as they are often facing intense pressures from the south in Turkey and/or Austria and ultimately more willing to work with Germany than against. Often the first person to offer Russia a bone, so to speak, gets Russian support. Turns out, that happened again in this game and was part of my demise.
My spring negotiations begun as such. I approached France and inquired which path she would prefer to take. I asked whether she had plans for the channel and if she had any interest in an anti-Anglo strategy or if she was playing it neutral. She let me know she had a great desire for Belgium, to which I said, I have no interest. I’ll let you and England fight that one out. England approached me and said they were playing it neutral. He also asked me right out how long I wanted to let May Ling live prior to us “crushing her”. I wasn’t quite ready to make a commitment either way, so I was noncommittal towards that question.
Jim pulled me aside and said his plan was to kill Paul and be non-aggressive towards me. I heard similar undertones (not nearly that subtle) from both Eric and Amanda and I knew Paul was going to have a tough road to hoe. Everyone seemed pretty non-aggressive towards me, which I took as a good sign.
After the moves were read, Jim ended up in good shape with a fleet in Armenia and a Turkish player already in a bad position. I quickly approached Amanda to glean whether she was still anti-Turkish and pro-Jim. She said she’d already promised Jim support into Rumania and she wasn’t going to lie to him. I said, well what are you going to tell Paul? She said, I don’t know. I said, so you’re going to lie to Paul then? She sheepishly smiled and exited the room.
Done….no Sweden for Jim.
Entertainment ensued when France and I talked. May Ling was basically begging me for Belgium. I was in Ruhr and Kiel and in position to affect the matter. I said, I don’t want anything to do with that.
Germany: You really want three builds? You’re not worried about being a target?
France: I want Belgium!! (stomping foot)
Germany: Go talk to Pete then and you guys work it out!
So they did…and apparently May Ling decided to support Pete’s army into Belgium, which I was none to happy about. First mistake on my part. Two builds each for England, France and Germany. Endless talk around the board about a Western Triple….blah blah blah.
Spring negotiations roll around and I’m none too happy with England or France at this point. I was in Ruhr and Holland with the ability to hit Belgium with support. I offered to Pete to let him keep Belgium in the Spring as we concentrated on May Ling at that point. I was in Ruhr, Munich and Holland and well positioned to hammer her pretty hard. I pulled Pete aside for a convo. It starts like this:
England: May Ling said I can move to the channel as part of a Western Triple strategy!!
Germany: You’re kidding me right? She invited you into the Channel??!
England: Yep. So I said, sure.
Germany: I said, ok. Support me into Burgundy then from Ruhr so I can guarantee it.
England: May Ling said she’ll support me to hold in Belgium and I don’t want to tip her off yet.
Germany: Ok…sounds like I don’t need it then! With you in the channel, she’s toast anyway.
Of course, France supported herself into Burgundy and we bounced, but England was in the channel and in addition in good position with his fleets in North, Skag and Norway. In addition, he’d supported me into Sweden as part of my negotiation to let him hold onto Belgium. I was a little concerned at this point as I saw the plethora of fleets arrayed around me.
Germany: It may be too tempting for you, so why don’t you go ahead and take Sweden back and I could just pop Belgium. Or you could swing your fleets to MAO and EC and North and France is toast and we’re rolling.
England: That’s an awesome plan and then we’re well on our way.
Germany: Yeah…the only thing is me trusting you for one turn, but the logic behind these moves is too overwhelming to pass up. I’ll go with it because after this, you stay at 5, but next year pick up a minimum of two centers. I gain 1 this year and 1 next year. And we’re steaming through the center of the board while the other 4 players are enthralled in what seems to be shaping up to be a long battle.
England: Yeah…very true.
Why I don’t trust my instincts at this point, I can’t say. But of course, Jim was the first to offer Pete “a cookie”. He offered to move to Sweden with Pete’s support and at the same time that would mean Pete could support himself into Denmark, which I couldn’t stop. GOB-Swe, Norway S that, Ska to Den, North S that.
England certainly got his one build that year. I lost one, ending up at 4 and perplexed at what had just happened. The board was a conglomerated mess as Jim I’m sure was hoping exactly for. My partnership with England was in shambles and England was well out of position to do much with any force at all. He came to me after and said as much. I said, why, why? It makes no logical sense to grab that dot and leave this. France was done if he’d made the moves we discussed. If he had, the board looks like:
England: MAO, EC, North, Belgium, Norway
Germany: Burgundy, Ruhr, Holland, Swe, Den
I pick up one build and England gets Portugal next year along with Brest more than likely. We also make a convincing push towards Paris and possibly pick that up also.
I’ll admit, I was a bit disgruntled the remainder of the game, but continued to make a fervent push to work with England, more out of bad position on my part than anything else. Eric kept saying, you need to work with May Ling, but she kept vacillating back and forth, never able to make a push with any fervor in one direction or another. I was getting frustrated and kept working out good deals with England that seemed yet again to make more and more logical sense. Each time I was thwarted by Pete’s moves…some of them logical on his part, but the majority seemingly not making any conceivable sense other than to leave me frustrated and neutered.
Pete ended up getting large and up to 11 centers by the time I was finally eliminated. His main problem was he did this while alienating any allies he might find on the board. Meanwhile, in the East, Jim’s Russia and Eric’s Italy had worked out a very solid partnership and had consolidated the board on their side while turning their attention westward.
As I left, the center counts were England 11, Russia, 10, Italy 9, and France 2, I believe. I assumed unless something strange happened that IR would either run the board or there would be a draw soon. Turns out Jim was able to continue his push and England apparently fell to the 2 on 1 attack without any armies on the continent to be able to slow down their apparent central push.
As Jim said, this was actually an incredibly interesting and dynamic game that was wide open until the end. No perceivable stalemate lines ever materialized. Pete played a solid game. It’s hard to criticize an England that reaches 11 centers as you’re being eliminated. The one thing I would say is that to really do well in this game, you have to be able to forge long-term partnerships and only really stab partners when there is meaningful gain and it won’t affect your strategic positioning in a decisive manner.
The great thing about this game is the personalities that contribute to the immense dynamism of each and every game. As Jim said, that’s what keeps us all coming back for more!! Congratulations to everyone for making this a really fun experience!
[quote]One other enjoyable tidbit is that we were working on a hard deadline. On the last fall turn (1910) we knew it would be the last.[/quote]
That last year was a highlight for me as well. Especially the last turn. We had been playing for almost eight hours, and were punchy from fatigue and booze.
You had A Tri, A Gre and F Aeg. I had A Con, A Bul, A Rum and A Gal. Vie was your center, Bud and Ser, mine. It wasn’t a difficult tactical puzzle to solve, but twice I nearly got it wrong before finally finding the correct moves: Gal-Vie, Rum-Ser, Bul S Rum-Ser, Con-Smy.
My moves ensured that you couldn’t take a center without losing one of your own.
Fun turn and a great game.
I’ll try to keep my endgame comments brief, as I’ve contributed quite a bit already in previous comments.
As I drove up to Pete McNamara’s home in Evanston, I recognized that I was in a rut. In general, I’m a player who prefers to assess what’s going to happen in 1901 and then react to that. So instead of making things happen, lately, I’d been in a rut where things were happening to me.
I wanted to change that in Game No. 88. So, after selecting powers via preference lists, when I sat down as Russia and looked around the table, I was pleased.
The East looked good. Italy (Eric Brown) and Turkey (Paul Pignotti) are professional players with whom I’ve worked both with and against in the past. I had never played with Austria (Amanda Baumgartner) before, but our opening negotiations were promising. She seemed agreeable, and she preferred not to bounce in Galicia. That told me she was willing to give me a fair shake.
In the West, I knew Germany (Peter Yeargin) to be a good, reasonable player who would be unlikely to bounce me in Sweden just because. Meanwhile, England (Pete McNamara, a.k.a P-Mac, a.k.a. the dot-grabbing Pac-Man) and I had played the same two positions in the final round at Weasel Moot. In that game, a frustrating one for both of us, he had ignored my traditional speech about the St. Petersburg cul-de-sac. I expected him to be a better listener this time around.
That left distant France (May Ling Chong). I don’t remember ever having played with her. I hoped she would be as open minded as Amanda.
So, I was pleased. It looked like this would be the rare game where all things were equal.
And now, having officially passed brief, I’ll get to the point of this comment, which is why I chose to work with Italy.
All things being equal, I think Italy is Russia’s best alliance partner.
The R/T is a powerful alliance. It’s called the Juggernaut for a reason. But it has three serious flaws.
1) The emergence of an R/T tends to galvanize the rest of the board. If you read my Tsar’s Survival Guide in comment #2, you know I think it’s important to discourage E/G cooperation. The R/T encourages it.
2) After the R/T eliminates Austria, they don’t have much opportunity to cooperate.
3) Meanwhile, as Turkey expands, her new builds are closer to your rear than her front. Maybe you can manage that when the Turk is named Doofus McDoofus. It’s a little tougher when his name is Paul Pignotti.
I also like the A/R, especially when the Austrian is an aggressive player who is willing to join you in flooding the no-man’s land with armies as early as Spring 1902. But this alliance can easily run into naval problems, especially against a competent Western alliance.
The I/R addresses all those cons.
1) It operates under the radar, especially if the first target is Turkey.
2) You have two common opponents, and after you’ve dispatched Turkey and Austria, you can cooperate against Germany or go your separate ways without getting in each other’s way.
3) As the alliance expands, all its builds will be right on the front(s).
4) Italy should be able to hold his own against a Western incursion into the Med, and if you handled the North right, you may be able to project naval power up there. Stalemate line, Shmalemate line.
So, I told Eric that I wanted an I/R and let him choose the first foe. He wisely picked Turkey. That was it. Although there would be uneasy moments when either one of us could have stabbed for considerable gain, we didn’t, and the result was a great game for both of us. I even waived a build at one point just to keep my ally happy.
Eric’s flip against Amanda in Fall 1902 did catch me off guard. I chose to stick with him and took Budapest from her the following year and Serbia in 1904.
We also survived Paul’s efforts to break us apart. I had to work hard for that. I felt we had finally ensnared the Turk when France sailed into the Med for a second time, this time much more decisively.
Eric was determined to pull F Eas back to defend the boot. I persuaded him to use his three armies in and around Austria for that purpose instead in exchange for a promise of support into Smyrna. That took a hell of a leap of faith by him, because he had to expose his Trieste and Vienna to me. But I kept my hands off his centers and gave the promised support as well.
Eventually, Pac-Man began gobbling up French dots, which relieved the pressure on Italy. I’ll be honest. If that hadn’t happened, I’m not sure I could have resisted Vienna and Trieste…and Greece and Smyrna. When I closed my eyes, I saw Adam Berey’s smiling face holding up the Best Russia plaque. I knew I needed a solo to prevent that horrifying image from becoming reality.
But May Ling pulled back allowing Eric to consolidate, and we were able to set up a bounce system that protected both of us while freeing most of our units for aggressive action against the West.
The only other near bump in the road occurred in the last turn, as I wrote in a previous comment. We weren’t fighting at that point, but each of us wanted to preserve his score, and we didn’t think to talk about our moves. Fortunately, as was the case for most of the game, our thoughts were in synch.
So, yah, thumbs up to the I/R. But I should offer a word of warning to those who would play it as Italy. Don’t make the mistake I did in the first round of the 2006 DipCon in Charlottesville, Va. If you focus too much on eliminating A/T at the expense of carving out a solid, defensible position for yourself, you could be abetting a Russian solo. (That story had a happy ending, as I finished seventh in the tournament to Russia’s eighth, so suck on that, Christian Pedone.)
Just don’t forget that Diplomacy ultimately is an every-man-for-himself game, and you should be fine.
Well, I guess it’s time for Mother England to come in and defend her honor.
Even though England finished with 7 centers and had a high water count of 11, this was not a great game for me.
As Peter pointed out, I did a poor job of cultivating a long-term ally and probably make one or two grabs which were opportunistic – good for the short run, bad for the long run.
My initial thinking was to work with May if I could against Germany. Jim is right in that I was hesitant to get stuck in the STP quaqmire. I also know that if Germany builds armies and England fleets the E-G is a good alliance. Belgium was the 1st thing that was open. Peter said he was neutral on it and it was up for me and May to work out. May told me she would support me in and she was okay with supporting my army in instead of a fleet. I had no idea she wanted it for herself. In retrospect getting belgium was great, but I didn’t really use the force to good use as there was no trust between me and Germany (due to me). I kept delaying making aggressive moves on France early on and Jim did a good job of creating conflict between me and Germany.
I should have taken one of Peter’s olive branches and allied with him, especially Germany really saved my butt in the mid-game when he grabbed Belgium from France while France was advancing fleets along the NAO and MAO. This forced France to disband her threat against me and then in fact revert back to the Med.
Of course, my thanks to Peter was taking Denmark (or was it Kiel) from him. This sealed my fate to having no friends as I used my other goodwill from France to take Brest and Iberia. The game would have had a much different ending if I had chosen to work with Peter instead of taking advantage of easy short term games.
This led to May giving Italy a couple of her centers to they could concentrate on me.
At this point, I had no allies and Russia and Italy were working together very well so the only thing that prevented England from having less than 7 centers was the time limit.
The last couple of games I have played I have gone in with a plan or objective (destroy x or work with y). This is a change from how I played most of my first year which was to see who wanted to work with me and then move from there. This has led me to do things that have ended up being poor for the long-run in order to achieve objective x and hopefully I’ll find the right balance of having the board play me and playing the board with others.
This was still a fun game, even though I had one massively bad misorder (I supported my own attack on myself – what a waste of units) and at least 2 turns where I grabbed a center and then felt bad about it immediately as I wasn’t in good position and so it was an empty center in the first place.
p.s. I’m not sure I like the ‘dot-grabber’ accusations but the only way to cure that is to not be a dot-grabber. And, note to the new people out there “dot-grabber” is not really a compliment :-).
[quote]I’m not sure I like the ‘dot-grabber’ accusations[/quote]
Three words: Wocka, wocka, wocka. 😆
That looks like spin, coming from both sides.
Not to mention the spin on “professional players.” 😉
It would take too much time to go through all of these (and they were enjoyable) and pick out the spin… but don’t even try to spin that there isn’t spin in all of the above.
I don’t mind it, just acknowledge it. 😛
Buddha I love emoticons. 😐
[quote]I don’t mind it, just acknowledge it.[/quote]
How about if I acknowledge that we have different definitions of spin?
Endgame statements should be told from the author’s point of view. Our perception of events obviously will be skewed by the fact that none of us is omniscient. But that’s why honest endgame statements are valuable. You can see everyone’s (or at least everyone who sumbits a statement) point of view and better understand what happened in the game.
I don’t think telling a story from your point of view is spin. Spin, to me, implies a calculated effort to control public opinion, to ensure that everyone sees events from a particular point of view. In the realm of Diplomacy endgame statements, that would be a point of view that portrays the author in the best possible light.
Be entertaining, be informative, but above all, be honest. If you can’t be honest, then be quiet.
I think [i]I’ve[/i] been more than honest in my end-game statments, too honest in fact. :sigh:
Spin as a derogatory term includes among other things the following eight ‘tricks’ as discussed by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson in their book titled [u]unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation[/u]:
5.The “Average” Bear
6.The Baseline Bluff
7.The Literally True Falsehood
8.The Implied Falsehood
Look for my forthcoming Diplomacy World article on EOGs and spin with examples from the Chicago Weasels and Jim’s published accounts of his Diplomacy Travels (assuming approved for publication which if Greg’s track record 😉 is any indication, it will be.)
I know we agree (once again) that EOGs [i]should be[/i] as honest as subjectively possible, but even so many contain spin even if the spinner doesn’t know it or attempts to disguise it as facts or entertainment. Take for examply your headlines, but you can read all about it in a forthcoming issue of Diplomacy World (if it gets approved).
Good thing no one reads [i]Diplomacy World[/i]!
I must say this has been a fun thread and great EOG discussion from all involved. As Jim mentioned in Comment #10, honest endgame statements really do provide a good learning experience for everyone. I learned a ton just by reading Jim’s and Pete’s above about how the various factions went about their business.
One good takeaway is making sure you do have some “friends” left by the end of the game if you want to push towards a higher center count in the 13-16 range as good allies are hard to come by and in my experience, materialize very early on and build trust along the way after that.
[quote]One good takeaway is making sure you do have some “friends” left by the end of the game[/quote]
Certainly it didn’t help Pete at the end that May Ling and Peter both chose to aid Italy with their dying breaths. However, I think Pete’s biggest problem at the end was unit mix, not a lack of friends.
Eric and I were able to roll him back not because we were allies and he wasn’t but because we had the right unit mix and he didn’t. Of his 11 units, Pete had at most three armies. That wasn’t enough.
If you’re going to try to dominate your sphere on your own, then you must pay attention to the types of units you’ll need to defend it and also to whom your endgame opponents are likely to be.
The I/R was a bad endgame “fit” for England, especially because Russia controlled the StP port. By the end of the game, I had four fleets in the North. If England had enough armies to hold the middle, had secured the StP port, and had eliminated my lone northern fleet earlier in the game, he might have held on to the board top.
Also, it’s true that turning on May Ling ultimately hurt him in the end as she contributed signficantly to Italy’s drive into Iberia and France, but consider the alternative. If Pete hadn’t stabbed her, which pulled her off of Italy and allowed Eric to regroup, I might have soloed.
So, I agree that you don’t want to needlessly tick off anyone and that it helps to have good relations with as many other players as possible, I think the most important takeaways are 1) make sure your unit mix fits your strategy (i.e., if you’re going to kill the guys whose armies are necessary to hold a stalemate line, make sure you replace those armies with your own), and 2) know who your endgame opponents are likely to be (even better, if you can, act to ensure that they are who you [i]want[/i] them to be) and the position you’ll need to maintain the upper hand against them.
Great game, great discussion. I look forward to the dissection of Game No. 89, which is now under way at Peter’s house.