The Return of the King

The first online Red Wednesday featured both board-toppers from last Saturday’s first online league games, newcomer Wes Ketchum and reigning Bull Weasel, Ali Adib. Wes learned that life at the top can be a little lonely, while Ali rode an ersatz Western Triple to another board-top.  Christian Brown made his Weasels debut and found himself caught between supposed allies.  See all the orders on Backstabbr, and check out Chris Kelly’s as-it-happened commentary in the comments below.

Game #402, played on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at Online in Interwebs, ended in a seven-way draw in 1905. This game is part of WCW League 15 (2020).
Austria(Carlos Treviño)6 centers12.429 points
England(Bryan Pravel)7 centers13.429 points
France(Ali Adib)9 centers36.429 points
Germany(Chris Brown)3 centers9.429 points
Italy(Eber Condrell)2 centers8.429 points
Russia(Wes Ketchum)2 centers8.429 points
Turkey(Cori Neslund)5 centers11.429 points
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Chris Kelly

    I will attempt to provide “live” commentary here (especially if I can edit this comment to keep all my remarks in one place).

  2. Chris Kelly

    Editing seems to be outside my reach (either technically or mentally) at the moment, so I’ll group comments by year, starting with 1901:

    S1901 – Generally standard openings, w/bounces in Galicia & Black Sea; TUR (Cori) opens to Armenia – bound in Gal means she can stop RUS from building in south, but can she get AUS/ITA on board?

    F1901 – TUR doesn’t drop the hammer on RUS, settling for taking Black Sea while letting RUS take Rumania; AUS & RUS disengage from Galicia (A War->Ukr, A Vie->Tri); GER/RUS bounce in Sweden, while ENG goes hard north (convoy to Nwy, F Nwg->Bar) and GER builds 3 by taking Hol and Bel (as FRA holds in Bur).

    W1901 – Is there a Western triple? FRA builds A Par/F Mar, but ENG builds F Lon and GER builds F Kie (plus A Ber & A Mun). TUR builds A Con, apparently unconcerned about a possible Lepanto (but then why did she let RUS take Rumania?). RUS builds A St.P due to the ENG F in Barents.

  3. Brandon Fogel

    We had an unfortunate adjudication snafu in F02. No orders for Bryan Pravel (England) were present, even though I (as GM) thought I had checked that they were. Although it was obvious what Bryan would have ordered, I made the decision to leave the orders as adjudicated — all holds. From now on I’ll keep a second window open as a record of what I was looking at before adjudication. It’s a lesson that the GM has to be extremely careful in these situations.

  4. Chris Kelly

    Spring 1902 – GER and ENG certainly believe there’s a Western triple, as GER sends 4 units east (to Sweden, Baltic, Prussia, and Silesia) while ENG tries but fails to take St. Petersburg (should have moved A Nwy->Fin for flanking purposes, IMO). TUR similarly fails to take Sevastopol (which would’ve worked if she’d bounced RUS in Rumania in F1901), but seemingly gains an ally in AUS (which supports A Vie->Gal while sending A Tri->Tyr and A Ser->Tri)… Russia is now under attack by all four of its neighbors! Meanwhile, FRA (Ali) moves cautiously south, sending F Mar->Lyo but also building a wall of armies against GER in the north, just in case. ITA abandons the Lepanto opening to defend against the French threat (F Nap->Tys, A Ven->Pie, A Tunis convoyed back to Apulia).
    Fall 1902 – GER learns the dangers of a Western triple the hard way… FRA stabs his way into both Belgium and Munich, the latter w/support from AUS A Tyr. AUS appears to have decided GER was a bigger threat than RUS, also helping A Ukr defend Warsaw — but this (ironically or not) lets TUR take Sevastopol after all. ENG has all of his units hold, apparently a technical issue per Brandon’s comment above (I thought perhaps he was tipped off to the French stab of GER and chose to stand back and watch). FRA moves F MAO->Wes, but may be content to a stalemate vs. ITA now that the action is in Germany.

    Winter 1902 – Only 2 powers have builds: FRA (F Brest, A Paris) and TUR (A Ankara), while GER disbands A Livonia. Several players — really, all of them — have big choices to make as far as their alliances (and/or how to survive).

    An exciting game!

  5. Chris Kelly

    Spring 1903 – Back in the fray, ENG declines to pile on GER, accepting the latter’s help to take St. Petersburg while self-bouncing to defend the Channel (rather than, say, taking Holland or Denmark). RUS may be giving up, walking out of Warsaw and Rumania (which TUR accepts via convoy from Ankara) while retreating St.P to Moscow. The moves by FRA, GER, ITA, and AUS are mostly standoffs; ITA forces its way from Ion->Tunis, but AUS F Gre slips into the Ionian behind it as FRA F Bre->MAO, neither of which bode well for the Italian. TUR’s position looking very strong at this point… how long will Cori wait before moving against AUS?

    Fall 1903 – Okay, *now* ENG decides to take Holland (w/support from FRA, which keeps its options option by having F MAO hold). Seeking to maintain the balance of power, AUS now supports GER back into Munich. Very little action otherwise, for now…

    Winter 1903 – The only builds are ENG (A Lon, F Edi) and TUR (A Smy), both of which signal a desire to keep their current alliances (FRA and AUS, respectively). That NMR “strategy” seems to have worked out well for Bryan… maybe he should try it more often!

  6. Chris Kelly

    Spring 1904 – AUS moves against ITA, taking Venice and Naples. ENG moves F Holland->Helgoland Bight and F Barents->Norway, setting up further attacks on GER. RUS moves to cover Warsaw, while FRA and RUS mostly stand back and watch (again, for now).

    Fall 1904 – ITA retakes Naples (forcing the AUS F to disband), but loses Tunis to FRA (which takes Tys as well… hope Ali sends Carlos a thank-you note!). Similarly, ENG takes Denmark, but GER retakes Holland. TUR begins to position itself vs. AUS with A Ukr->Gal and F Con-Bul (sc).

    Winter 1904 – FRA builds A Mar and is back in the lead with 7 units, but ENG (6 units) builds F Lon, so we’ll see where that goes… AUS (builds F Tri, A Vie) and TUR each have 6 units, GER 5 units, and ITA/RUS 2 each. AUS looks to be caught between FRA and TUR…

  7. Chris Kelly

    Spring 1905 – AUS manages to ally with ITA vs. FRA *and* RUS vs. TUR, taking Piedmont while ITA protects Rome and preparing to defend Greece while RUS moves to both Ukraine and Galicia (the latter with AUS support). Meanwhile, FRA takes Holland from GER and slips into the Irish Sea (next to an undefended Liverpool), so the lack of progress in Italy may not be a problem. (With this being the last year by time limit, Ali seems to have a lock on a 9-center board top.)

    Fall 1905 – Enjoyable last-turn chaos! FRA walks into Liverpool as expected, but ENG supports GER A Kie-Hol, with F Nth cutting support from Belgium. Unfortunately for GER, A Munich covers Berlin against a (nonexistent) attack from TUR A Silesia, letting FRA A Burgundy walk in from behind, and ENG F Norway walks into Sweden. Meanwhile, AUS can’t get anywhere on its own, but supports RUS into Rumania as TUR supports ENG A St.P->Moscow.

    Winter 1905 – Game ends with FRA at 9 units, followed by ENG (7), AUS (6), TUR (5), GER (3), and ITA/RUS (2 each).

    AFTERMATH (opinion): As France, Ali won by letting Germany overextend itself in pursuit of a Western triple, then stabbing GER and managing to keep England on board as an ally. Italy could do little more than defend itself, Russia was overwhelmed by its neighbors, Austria had some moments but never found an opening to break out, and Turkey was perhaps too conservative in pursuing its objectives. A more assertive/aggressive England might have challenged for the board top as well.

  8. Bryan Pravel

    Chris Kelly, I loved the live commentary. Thanks for doing that. I completely agree with your assessment about the West. I had a choice between “attacking the leader for the win” or “racing for the win” and I chose to race. In hindsight this may have been the wrong choice. I made a few mistakes.

    1. The failure to get order in in F1902 combined with the devious Austrian support of France into Munich meant that we lost all of the tempo from the Triple. It didn’t help that Germany disbanded the forward army in Livonia and France didn’t build the 2nd fleet in S1901 as well. All of these combined basically made the Triple no longer feasible.

    2. When I had an army in Holland I had the choice to work with Germany against Ali or France against Chris B. I chose France because I felt that with an army in Holland I was in excellent position to force Sweden, Denmark, and Kiel before we ran out of time. I saw that France would have a more difficult time with the position he was in. Chris B. surprised me when he popped my army. I didn’t see that as even a possibility so great job Chris B! Once that happened, I no longer had the upper hand against France but felt my units were out of position to move against Germany.

    3. I should have moved London to Wales in the final turn. I trusted Ali too much. He’s the Bull Weasel, I should have known better. Good job Ali for lulling me into a comfort zone.

    This was a fun game for me and I believe the first for me of the season! Hopefully I make wiser choices next time! And for the record, Chris B. knows what he’s doing. Don’t sleep on this guy. Once he develops a cadence for face-to-face negotiations he’s going to be a contender in this league.

  9. Chris Kelly

    Thanks, Bryan — looking more closely in hindsight, I can see the challenges you were up against. Ironically, I don’t think the lost move in F1902 hurt you too badly… it let you slide a bit below the radar so GER was willing to help you into St.P, and trust you in F1903. If you’d gotten the St.P build in 1902, that extra unit would likely have seemed threatening to either GER or FRA, depending on where it went.

    Similarly, losing Holland while taking Denmark let you rebuild F Lon, which could have protected Liverpool… but then again, you kind of needed it to do everything you wound up accomplishing in the north (taking Sweden & Moscow without losing Norway or Denmark, plus helping GER take Holland from FRA). What hurt wasn’t just guessing wrong on Ali going after Liverpool, but GER first choosing to attack you in Holland, then covering Berlin rather than Munich in F1905 — i.e., not treating GER as his primary enemy.

    In retrospect, as you say, attacking FRA immediately after his F1902 stab of GER (rallying GER & ITA in a full alliance against the board leader) might have been the better gamble. If it worked, then hopefully you could have held Ali down a couple of units, then picked up the Scandinavian & other centers later. Then again, maybe that opens up a better opportunity for AUS to stab ITA without Ali reaping the benefits, and those 2 German fleets really couldn’t much else rather than defend against you. So it may have been an uphill battle either way.

  10. Christian Brown

    Alright! Thanks you as well for the excellent Commentary Bryan Pravel and Chris Kelly. It was well received. And I greatly appreciate the compliment about my future with the Windy City Weasels.

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