More than 12 years into Windy City Weasels Diplomacy and we’re still setting firsts. Yesterday at the Red Lion, for the first time in club history, one of our title games was settled by tie-breaker.
Defending champion Jake Trotta rallied for five centers in the final two game-years to catch Ali Adib at 11 centers. Trotta, the game’s second seed, claimed the spot on Cockerill’s Orb via the tie-breaker, which is reverse selection order. Trotta had the third choice of powers. Adib, the No. 4 seed, picked first.
The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn. The final center counts were:
Austria (Chris Kelly): 1; 0.355 points.
England (Brandon Fogel): 1; 0.355 points.
France (Ali Adib): 11; 42.908 points.
Germany (Jim O’Kelley): 3; 3.191 points.
Italy (Jake Trotta): 11; 42.908 points.
Russia (Bryan Pravel): 2; 1.418 points.
Turkey (Christian Kline): 5; 8.865 points.
We’ve now had back-to-back repeats in the Brawl. Chris Kelly won in 2014 and 2015. Jim O’Kelley won the inaugural title in 2013 and is the only champion who failed to repeat.
The supply center chart is here. We’ll let the players tell the rest of the story. With the way this one finished, there should be plenty to talk about.
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I really didn’t mean to completely hide myself behind Christian et al. in the photo, but that’s a fitting metaphor for the game I played.
(P.S. If I’m really that much taller than everybody else, when is the Weasels basketball tournament happening?)
You [i]are [/i]that much taller than everyone else, which begs the question, how were you even [i]able [/i]to hide behind Christian?
My Season 12 Barroom Brawl AAR
How I learned to stop worrying and love Bud
I was 6th going into this game so I selected Second. My choice was to go before or after Chris Kelly and I went before. I was fortunate enough to end up with a much earlier pick than I was expecting so I selected Russia, a power I have really been enjoying recently due to its high amount of flexibility and potential explosiveness.
My neighbors ends up as Christian Kline in Turkey, Chris Kelly in Austria, Brandon Fogel in England, and Jim O’Kelley in Germany. Ali Adib was France and Jake Trotta was Italy.
I immediately pitched a Juggernaut to Christian Kline in Turkey and he was interested. I planned on this until Jake and Chris Kline pitched a Blue Water Lepanto. I love the Blue Water as Russia. A strong Austria and Italy can make this a *powerful* alliance but I didn’t think there was any chance that Chris and Jake would keep working together so I expected this meant they would be all tangled up with each other and it would make me the power that benefited. It also meant Christian wouldn’t get out of the box and I could head west early. I was sold. Everyone opened as agreed upon. Well, everyone opened as agreed upon except for me that is. I lied to Christian from turn one. My justification was that the potential reward was worth the cost and this was a top board so my normal goals of being a reliable ally were set aside. I was playing the shark this game.
I opened with F Sev – Rum which I usually don’t like because you can’t pressure Bud with it, but the Blue Water Italy is a gamble for tempo. Everyone had risk and that was mine. I just wanted to make sure that Italy got the 50/50s when possible so that I had more diplomatic control over the theater. Italy could help me get Balkan dots. With Austria as my second I needed a stronger northern game.
In the North Jim let me into Sweden. With my builds I had to chose between pushing for Scandinavian dots early to try and use them to pressure Jim in Germany, or to ignore the north and focus on the Balkans and Turkey. There was an obvious F/G and I preferred Chaos in the west while we were well behaved in the east, so I chose to prop Brandon up to slow the F/G down. I didn’t really have a strong preference about who won, I just wanted to make sure that it took a long time so that I could sweep in while they were locked up with each other.
This meant I built two armies, one in StP (to discourage Brandon from retreating Nwy – StP and signal to the AIR I was still onboard) and one in Moscow to protect myself from the wrath of Christian Kline who was justifiably upset the most at me for lying to his face.
The A/I/R got Christian down to three centers. Chris Kelly suggested we move early on Jim which I didn’t hate because England needed an ally. I moved my units that direction along with Chris’s Austrian armies. As expected, Jake didn’t like his position and felt this shift made Chris out of position. Jake said he wanted to attack Chris early. I did the math, mentally determined I would probably get Bud and Vie and could also keep Christian in the box, so I decided those two builds would be better for me than trying to attack Germany without Austrian help and agreed to help Jake.
Then Jake mis-ordered.
Now I had pulled my units back for no reason, had no tempo play on anyone, and Chris and Jake were pretty committed against each other. So we made a deal with the devil (Christian) to try and rapidly eliminate Chris.
This time I mis-ordered. PSA, Gal S Rum is not the same as Gal S Rum – Bud. Clearly this board represented the best quality players that our league has to offer. 😛
I was fine though. Chris agreed to let bygones be bygones and supported Rum to Bul when I moved to BLA. Christian was done, I had a (mostly) reliable ally in Chris, we were good. Except that Ali in France was dominating the west while Brandon and Jim slugged it out so I knew we had French fleets about to head into the Med. I needed fleets and Christian and Jake were the ones who could build them. Chris Kelly had to defend Tri and had no way of getting fleets out. Plus, if Christian and Jake both built fleets, that was great for me. I returned Chris’s good will with another stab. Gal S Rum – Bud was ordered again.
Except that it wasn’t. I mis-ordered *again*. PSA, Gal S Rum – Bul is not the same as Gal S Rum – Bud.
I got no builds lost Sweden and StP, and from that point forward my game was effectively over. I made one last push to get dots in the Balkans but I needed Italian help to make it happen and by this time Jake thought he had a chance to win and wasn’t interested in playing second fiddle (nor did I deserve it with the quality of my play), so Christian and Jake slow took my Centers and I sat back and watched the game collapse around me while I ordered Mos S Sev for the rest of the game.
That isn’t to say the end game was without drama. Ali had a commanding lead but IMHO made a few poor decisions at the end of the game. When it became clear that the end was near, I think he should have taken the English dots and used those to solidify his hold in the West. An army as his last build was arguably a better choice and *helping* Jake into Munich was not necessary. Before that happened my sentiment was that most players were happy to see you top the board. After that, I overhear comments about not wanting to reward poor decision making and that’s when Jake started getting some momentum.
Overall, I feel like I was in great position to do very well in this game and threw it away with sloppy play. If this were football, I would be the team that kept turning the ball over. Diplomacy games with good players don’t offer you a ton of opportunities. You don’t win games when you don’t take advantage when those opportunities present themselves.
Austria (Chris): I really enjoyed playing with you this game. Had we not needed fleets, I stick with you against Christian. I hope we get the chance to try this A/R again.
England (Brandon): You were targeted from the outset. In retrospect I probably would have been better with my original plan going north with Austria. Had Jake and I not screwed things up, I think South was the right call, but as things turned out it was a poor decision.
France (Ali): If I couldn’t win, I was hoping you would pull it off. I thought you had this one. Keep how other players are going to react to your choices in mind, particularly in a top board. It’s a beauty pageant.
Germany (Jim): Not much to say here except that I enjoyed playing with you. Had I done better I probably end up trying to get your dots for the win, but I didn’t so we didn’t interact a ton. Thanks for Sweden.
Italy (Jake): Congrats on Weaseling your way to the top (40 weeks of comedy classes and that’s the best I can come up with?). I didn’t think you would pull off the win and you did. Well played.
Turkey (Christian): Frankly, you out played me this game. I don’t think I have been on a board with you where I respected you more. If this game didn’t end on time, I think you win.
I hope to get mine done tonight. For now, I’ll just respond to a couple of your points.
[quote]There was an obvious F/G[/quote]
I’m not sure why an F/G seemed so obvious to you and Brandon. For my part, the F/G was my [i]preferred[/i] alliance. I wanted to use Ali to beat down the Bull Weasel. But I surely wasn’t going to commit to an F/G before I was certain that I could move Ali against Brandon. There were no guarantees there, although Brandon’s opening to the Channel, and failure to withdraw in the Fall, helped.
I don’t think my decision to bounce England out of Belgium in 1901 (thus keeping him in the Channel) should be viewed as aggressively anti-England. In fact, while talking with Brandon about Belgium, I told him I didn’t view a +2/+2 1901 as equitable for Germany, since England had positional advantage, but I acknowledged that a +3/+1 was a hardly fair, either. I closed by saying that no one getting Belgium was probably the best result.
“Let’s just bounce in Belgium, then,” Brandon said.
I mistakenly took that for assent when it fact it was resignation.
I actually didn’t commit against England until he took Denmark in Spring 1902 with your support. In fairness, though, had he not done that and everything else stayed the same, I almost certainly would have committed fully to the F/G when France set up his convoy to Clyde. I think that was Spring 1903.
[quote]we didn’t interact a ton[/quote]
The clock was fast on Sunday. There was a turn when it ran out while Brandon and I were talking outside. Neither one of us could believe it. You were the one player I really wanted to talk with that turn, and I never got the chance.
I think it was in 1902. It probably wouldn’t have made a difference, as we had trouble landing on the same page in this game, but it might have. I wish I had managed my time better.
I felt the same too. I felt super rusty this game. Little things like clock management and order writing were what killed me.
[quote]I’m not sure why an F/G seemed so obvious to you and Brandon.[/quote]
Your move to Ruh in S01, you bouncing me in Bel in F01, and Ali moving Par-Pic rather than covering Bre in F01. These things told me that you and Ali were working closely together. You may have felt like you were keeping your options open, but that wasn’t how it looked to me. I put myself out there by opening to ENG, and you left me hanging.
[quote]”Let’s just bounce in Belgium, then,” Brandon said.[/quote]
Not what I remember saying, of course. “So a bounce, then,” or something like that.
I think it’s pretty hard for England to build F Lvp in 01 without a second build. I could have pressured you more on that, I suppose, but I don’t think it would have changed the result.
[u][b]Fail, Fail and Fail Again[/b][/u]
Three failings helped turn my promising start into a disappointing finish in this year’s Bar Room Brawl championship game.
First, I failed to remain focused on [i]my[/i] goal, which, of course, was to win the game.
I spent lots of time and energy in the first two years trying to forge an alliance with France (Ali Adib) against England (Brandon Fogel, the Bull Weasel). In Fall 1902, I finally persuaded Ali to set up a convoy to Clyde. That meant moving fleets to the North Atlantic and Mid Atlantic while leaving an army in convoy position in Gascony.
I mean, it took [i]a lot[/i] of effort to orchestrate these moves.
I also supported Ali into Belgium so that he could build F Brest, which he’d need to support his convoying fleet in the Mid Atlantic in the Spring.
The plan worked brilliantly. The French marines landed in Clyde in Spring 1903 and sacked Liverpool in the Fall (as I was swallowing Scandinavia through some quality guesswork). We both ended the year on seven.
Sounds pretty good, right? So, where’s the failure? Well, at this point in the game, I was completely absorbed in a team goal–defeating England–rather than focused on a me goal–winning the game.
Could I have flipped on France as he convoyed to Clyde? Taken Belgium for myself just as he was sending one of his home guardsmen overseas? Never even crossed my mind.
I was slugging it out against an E/R in Scandinavia at the time, so chalk up some of my inattention to that. I’m not saying that flipping there was necessarily the right thing to do, but failing to consider other possibilities is always a mistake. And the final result suggests that I [i]should [/i]have considered another course of action.
Next, I compounded my initial mistake by failing to adequately state my case for Belgium.
As I wrote above, just as Ali was taking Liverpool, I won the battle for the Scandinavian dots with some good guesses. England dropped from five to two. And the two units he kept were F North Sea and A Finland.
France was now poised to take all of England, while, despite a seemingly decisive 1903, I was still facing three E/R units in Scandinavia.
So, in Spring 1904, I muscled up on Belgium and then in the Fall, asked Ali for it.
“You’ve got London and Edinburgh coming,” I explained. “I’m probably going to lose something in Scandinavia. If you give me Belgium, you’ll still build one, and I won’t have to remove anything.”
Ali looked me in the eye and said, “How is that good for me?”
Later in the game, I gave Ali a great answer to that question. But in the heat of the moment, I had nothing. And it shouldn’t have been hard. A 3-2 split of the “British” dots in his favor is a great deal for him. He was insisting on a 4-1 split.
Instead of taking London, Ali defended Belgium. His army in Edinburgh, meanwhile, convoyed to Norway with British support (and via the British fleet!).
Ali had accepted Brandon as a janissary against me. The silver lining here was that I was able to retreat to St. Petersburg, and in that way, he did help me stay even. That comfort was short-lived, however.
Finally, I failed to bring Ali back into my orbit.
In our early battle for Ali’s allegiance, I beat Brandon soundly. Now, he had turned the tables just as soundly.
Soon, I was no longer rivaling Ali’s board-top. I was merely opposing it.
Ali never distinguished between the two. He continued to pound away at me with British help, even supporting Italy (Jake Trotta)–an actual, if distant, rival to his board-top–into my Munich in Spring 1906.
Ironically, my game now had circled back to the beginning as Ali repeated my first mistake. He had allowed Brandon’s goal–making Germany pay for England’s defeat–to become his goal when his goal should have been trying to win the game.
I retreated off the board, vetoed a draw, and on the final turn in Fall 1907, helped Jake hold Munich while allowing him to take Berlin.
Jake found another willing kingmaker in the East, and when the dust cleared, he rather than Ali was holding Cockerill’s Orb.
Nate would have been proud of Jake’s magical finish.
At my play, he would have chuckled, shaken his head, and raised a glass of Powers.
[u][i][b]Space Wizards and Shitty Redemption Stories[/b][/i][/u]
I saw a reddit post Sunday morning that said Vader, not Luke, is the Jedi that returns in Return of the Jedi. Despite being the hero, Luke really has no influence on the outcome of the battle or galaxy. Lando, Leia and Han succeeded in blowing up Death Star 2 because Palpatine decided small pathways that can cause chain reactions are an essential part of any superweapon. Luke only survives because his evil papa comes to his rescue after Luke rage-quits the dark side after all of like… twelve seconds.
Something about seeing Luke tossing his lightsaber and getting electrified makes Vader turn back to the good side, kill the emperor, and save his son for… reasons?
But honestly, does that really make sense with Vader’s character? He slaughtered the sand people. Not just the men, but the women and children too. He turned on his best friend, killed his wife, and wiped out the younglings. All of them. Vader’s “redemption” is kinda bullshit- he’s still a homicidal maniac responsible for millions of deaths.
Yet, as Luke tells us, there was still good in him. And there was still good in Christian Kline, the Vader of our club, who won me this game for… reasons? Because he still has good in him?
I don’t know, man. Kline is this club’s embodiment of the dark side of the force. Maybe there was something about seeing me rage-quit after he moved to Ionian that made him realize that, despite slaughtering younglings across Europe, he still has a good heart or something. It’s not much of a redemption story… but it lucked me into winning back-to-back brawls.
The board draw went pretty awesome- longtime rival Chris Kelly in Austria, needing me as an ally and giving me early game leverage. Bryan Pravel in Russia, his strongest country. And Christian Kline, my biggest threat, in Turkey. In the west, I figured Jim and Brandon would neutralize each other, and I liked my odds of either getting the jump on Ali in France, or beating him (or, really, anyone except Kline) out in a final year scenario.
The strategy- neutralize Turkey, stab Austria, and turn west hard with either Germany or Russia.
We organized an AIR featuring a Blue Water Key Lepanto, where Italy lands in Serbia and Austria lands in ION at the end of 01. Chris Kelly loved the idea, but admitted he didn’t know how exactly it worked tactically moving forward. This is ideal- Austria places a ton of trust in Italy when doing the key, and if they don’t have a clear plan forward, there are honey bunches of stab opportunities available for Italy.
We both stabbed each other in F02, where an ambitious misorder of Aeg-Serb prevented me from getting two builds (one of which a rebuild). Kline slowly but surely got out of the box due to this conflict.
The midgame was relatively simple. France was running through England with some English help against the German, so the East decided “hey let’s all go get Austrian dots before France runs away with this shit.” Due to a couple Russian misorders, Austria clung on, allowing France to get to 8 or 9 with a couple in the bank. Just as we formed a grand alliance to stop France, I threatened Christian “if you move to Ionian, I’m throwing the game to Ali.” He did the Christian Kline thing and moved to Ion anyways.
[b]The Turning Point- Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes[/b]
I had genuinely 95% given up at this point. I pulled Ali aside, told him I wanted him to win, and offered to convoy him into Rome, which he declined. We ended up agreeing to move him into TYS so he could take my stuff whenever. He also supported me into Munich so I could help against Germany. More on this in a sec.
Just a quick and very important note- if someone is offering to janissary for you, you feed them tactics, not the other way around. I had literally given up on this game, and in trying to help Ali, managed to fuck up the board enough to give myself a window.
Kline and I had our negotiation after he’d moved to Ion and doubled back on a mutually beneficial deal. I was pissed off, started raising my voice, realized that I was slipping and apologized. This is a big improvement from Royale, and might have saved the game. In our chat, I explained to Christian that I felt I needed to draw a line in the sand. The Old Guard and New Guard don’t quite see eye-to-eye on Grand Alliances and threatening to toss boards. Christian spent the time trying to convince me to keep my options open. And he was right- only a sith deals in absolutes.
Though we were (and remain) philosophically apart, keeping my emotions in check kept the window open for both of us. Within a season, I had realized my options, and asked Bryan Pravel in a negotiation “am I a wizard?” It was going to take some serious magic to come from behind to win.
[b]The Turning Point- We’ve Detected a Small Weakness[/b]
If Ali doesn’t support me into Munich, he wins this game. It’s that simple. I had honestly pitched it with good intention, as ALMOST all of the math checks out. Tactically, it frees up a lot of units and would all but eliminate any threat from the west. Strategically it can seem seductive- France feels that he’s eliminating one of two remaining rivals, while helping a janissary that will hold back the final rival.
In actuality, it created a new rival: me. It also pissed off Jim enough that he disbanded and offered to throw me dots. In an unlimited time game, Germany throwing dots to Italy won’t matter-Italy can’t hold them. In a bar game where Italy only needs to hold them for a final season? Hell yeah.
The decision to put me in Munich gave me that tiny vulnerability on an impenetrable battle station of France, causing a chain reaction in the superstructure that lead to victory. In the penultimate year, Christian came to me and offered to throw dots. His reasoning- and I’ve seen him hold to this- is if he can’t win and you didn’t piss him off, he will help you win. He was likewise offended at Ali’s choice to put me in Munich. Jim was also on my side. Pravel was too far away to do anything. Chris Kelly had two units that could annoy me.
[b]The Last Year- Now THIS is podracing![/b]
The year started France 9, Italy 8. In my head, I was chasing 11 dots. This is going to be easiest if I just list the things that had to go right for me to hit 11:
[i]1. Christian flip me Greece
2. Christian to support me to hold in Tunis
3. Christian support me into Bud and Serb Twice
4. Chris deciding to retreat from Gal into War instead of Gal into Silesia (if he was in Silesia, he could’ve bounced me out of Berlin in the fall)
5. Jim agreeing to let me into Berlin
6. Jim self-bouncing to save Munich for me
7. Chris not tapping Galicia in the fall to cut support into Budapest
8. Ali not making gains in Germany
9. Ali not supporting Jim into Munich to mess up a self-bounce for me to hold Munich
10. Ali not building an army in Marseilles that could threaten Venice, thus preventing me from preventing retreats into Trieste[/i]
If any of those 10 things don’t happen, I don’t get to 11 and Ali wins. France played an excellent game and was in great position… but Diplomacy’s not fair. The last year of bar games are unfair, especially in a title game. It’s easy so damn easy to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this game.
In the final year, I played for every single dot I could and made every pitch I could. You’d be surprised at how many Weasels actually play conservative in the last 20 minutes of a bar game.
I won because I gave myself an opportunity with the Munich thing, got lucky with support from Kline and Jim, and got lucky that Ali and Chris happened to not write any of the orders to stop me.
[b]This coffee is quite strong… with the force[/b]
Speaking of luck, I’ve had Irish coffee before 3 bar games. The first was last year’s Brawl Title Bout, a 17-center victory. The second was in December, a 16-center Italian performance. This was the third.
[b]Ok, future Weasels aspiring to win trophies… what did we learn?[/b]
1) You tell the janissary what to do, not the other way around
2) Cooler heads prevail. Or, if you catch yourself about to be a hothead, stop and apologize
3) Never give up, even if you’re janissarying
4) Don’t trade one rival for another unless it makes sense to
5) Swing for the fences with everything you’ve got in the last year of a bar game… especially the last season
6) Vader has his good days
Austria (Chris Kelly): Always a blast to play with… and at 3 seasons, possibly our longest alliance! Were you planning on stabbing in F02, or did my excitement at your accepting the convoy give me away?
England (Brandon Fogel): I feel like I annoyed the hell out of you with my “don’t throw the game” pitches, but I think 2017 wrapped up the way it should- you win the more important competition, I win the other one (Royale/Brawl, WOY/ Top Weasel)
France (Ali Adib): Love that the 2017 Brawl Star came down to the 2015 and 2016 Rookies of the Year. You played an absolutely excellent game- possibly the best I’ve seen you play. I’m even more impressed by your response after the game. Great sportsmanship, you know what you need to learn, and I’m looking forward to more exciting final seasons.
Germany (Jim O’Kelley): First, thank you for being mad at Ali and not me. Can’t really say this one is your fault- when EFR all want to fight you, life sucks. Curious what Russia’s decision making was there.
Italy (Jake Trotta): Other than forgetting Serbia is a landlocked nation, put yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities. Bold choice going with lowest percentage country with the third pick, had a blast and paid it off.
Russia (Bryan Pravel): Hurt to see you convoy Christian to Bulgaria while you lost Rum. Misorders aside, I wonder about your choice of target in the north. Hitting Germany concedes England to France, and France can get northern fleets faster than you. Granted, you were counting on me not to misorder and to move west myself.
Turkey (Christian Kline): There’s still good in you, I can sense it. Or maybe it’s just the trophy.
Fucking brilliant. Christian has the reputation of being a true scorpion, and that held here, right up until he started sucking out the poison he had just injected into you. Scorpions aren’t supposed to do that, but Darth Vaders apparently do.
I think this means Chris Kelly is Chewbacca, Jim O’Kelley is Obi Wan, and I’m Princess Leia.
One more thing that had to go right for you in the last turn: Pravel had to not tap Rumania from Sevastopol. Which he didn’t. This despite the fact that I talked to him and Chris about the need to tap Galicia and Rumania. They both agreed that they had a preference (if slight) for Ali winning, but then neither of them followed through.
In any event, congrats on the win. It was deserved, because you did the things that needed to be done at the end to make it happen. You got help, *a lot* of help, but it takes a village. And you made the hard choices. And the rest of us are left to wonder, what happened?
You didn’t annoy me, btw, you just had nothing to offer. I was more annoyed that we couldn’t barter.
[quote name=”Brandon Fogel”]I think this means Chris Kelly is Chewbacca, Jim O’Kelley is Obi Wan, and I’m Princess Leia.[/quote]
Next game, everybody, let the Wookiee win…
[quote]This despite the fact that I talked to him and Chris about the need to tap Galicia and Rumania. [/quote]
This seemed to be the problem, with the Easterners, at least. You were doing Ali’s negotiating for him. Kingmakers want to see the king they’re crowning, not his emissaries.
I can’t speak for Bryan, but in my case, it was simply that I didn’t believe Christian would go to such lengths to help Jake win; I was wrong. But if anything, I was probably more receptive to Brandon’s request than if Ali had directly asked us to help him win.
[quote name=”Brandon Fogel”]
You didn’t annoy me, btw, you just had nothing to offer. I was more annoyed that we couldn’t barter.[/quote]
Same here. I was surprised/ sads when you took England, which has a worse correlation with Italy than France does. When picking Italy, I assumed you were going to take Austria.
[quote name=”Jake Trotta”]Were you planning on stabbing in F02, or did my excitement at your accepting the convoy give me away?[/quote]
I wasn’t planning to stab you going into F02, but it wasn’t anything you said that changed my mind. I just looked at the board at some point during negotiations, saw you had a huge opportunity to stab me, and knew I couldn’t expect you to pass it up.
[quote]9. Ali not supporting Jim into Munich to mess up a self-bounce for me to hold Munich[/quote]
Ali had been standing over the board, talking about the self-standoff defense of Munich as if it were certain to happen. I’m shocked that he chose to support Belgium (which was only threatened by a pair of E/G units, and Brandon and I hadn’t talked since 1904) instead of one of my units into Munich.
After the game, Ali suggested that he had surrendered mentally, so that could be the reason. I’m also wondering whether he knows that you can order an unwanted support.
[b]Sometimes, Everything Sucks[/b]
AARs can be difficult to write. You have to sift through the complexity of an entire game to find a story that captures the essence of your experience, and every game offers a rich set of possible stories to tell.
That is not the case for me and the 2017 Bar Room Brawl Championship. I was beaten soundly, in all facets of the game. Power selection, tactics, strategy, diplomacy. Just crushed, everywhere and in every way. By the end of 03, I had a choice between going softly into the good night and tanking the game of one architect of my destruction to the benefit of the other. Not my goal at the start of the game.
My downfalls were numerous, but the main ones were these:
– Jim was in my theatre
– Ali played uncharacteristically aggressive in the first 3 years
– I lacked creativity in general and thoroughness in tactics
At some point, Jim and I will surprise the club with a functional alliance. Until then, everyone in the club should assume that we will continue to demonstrate the D in MAD. As I discuss in my response to his AAR, I think this one is on him. My 1901 moves were very G-friendly.
Ultimately, the thing that really killed me here was a total tactical failure against Ali. I sensed, correctly, that he and Jim were coming for me, but I failed to slow Ali down in three critical moments: 1) I allowed him to keep Bre open for a fleet build in 01 (after I successfully gained the Channel in S01), 2) I allowed him into NAO in F02, and 3) I did not see a convoy to Cly coming in S03. England can be difficult to invade, but only if it is defended properly. I didn’t do that.
Ali is known for conservative play, unwilling to take risks to gain position. I played the first 3 years against that Ali, but a different one was on the board. Unfortunately for him, conservative Ali returned in the last few game years, and he wasn’t able to bring the trophy home. Overall, however, I thought this game was a big step forward for him.
The main lesson for me? Sometimes, everything sucks.
[quote]My 1901 moves were very G-friendly.[/quote]
That’s true, but you implied above that I knew you were moving to the Channel. I didn’t.
What I did know is that Ali had finally settled on a self-standoff in Burgundy to keep me out. I moved to Ruhr, which is sensible and non-committal. It’s not anti-anyone.
As for Ali’s move to Picardy, I actually tried to talk him into covering Brest. (“Why else did you keep Paris home if not to cover Brest,” I asked him.) Shockingly, he didn’t play defensively there.
To me, his move to Picardy meant that he preferred leverage on Belgium to wasting a move to defend against an attack he deemed unlikely. That was the first indication that Ali wasn’t playing his typical game. Good for Ali.
Finally, I don’t see much difference between our recollections of your response to my position on Belgium. I said that the best, meaning fairest, result was for neither one of us to get Belgium. You responded with something other than “I can’t work with you if I don’t get a second build” or “If you bounce me it’s war.”
So, I walked away from that conversation thinking that we had agreed to bounce in Belgium.
I built F Kiel and A Munich, and then I did exactly what we agreed I would do in Spring 1902: I didn’t contest your move to Belgium; I moved Denmark to Sweden expecting your support (which you offered freely); and I moved Kiel to Baltic.
Meanwhile, you attacked me with support from the Russian unit that I had allowed to walk into Sweden in the Fall. Which brings me to my last point.
[quote]I think it’s pretty hard for England to build F Lvp in 01 without a second build.[/quote]
I completely agree. Had I a crystal ball to tell me that you would use the gain from Belgium to build F Liverpool, I would have let you take Belgium. I was in favor of anything that would lead to E/F conflict.
But I didn’t have a crystal ball, and I wasn’t confident enough in my place in the developing Western alliance structure to give you the upper hand against me. Because sometimes when you give a player a build, he uses it to screw you.
Amirite, Mr. Pravel?
Anyway, again, you were correct to suspect a developing F/G, but characterizing it as an “obvious” alliance–as you did in our post-game debrief at the Red Lion and Bryan did above–overstates what was actually happening in the game.
That’s my point.
I did say I would build F Lvp if you let me into Bel, but of course that’s no guarantee. Still, it’s difficult for England to use a second build against G right away.
If we’re just arguing over whether it was obvious or merely apparent that you weren’t going to ally with me, well, ok. Don’t forget, I was aware of your Old-Guard metagaming impulses (kill the Bull Weasel!).
In any case, at the moment we have a well-established pattern that is benefitting others instead of us. I took a concrete pro-alliance-with-Jim step this game; maybe someday you’ll return the favor.
Perhaps what I need to do is develop a Kline-gear and threaten to throw the game in F01. Maybe that’s how the Old Guard likes it. Would that have gotten me Bel?