1870 AARs

5-player variant based around Asia Minor. Created by Spekulatius & brought to site by Yhanthlei. GM: Yhanthlei; winner: slayer666

1870 AARs

Postby Yhanthlei » 25 Aug 2011, 21:36

Just setting this thread up to encourage AARs for 1870 Diplomacy. I think that this was a very interesting game, both for the negotiations and strategies and for the map itself. I'll have my thoughts up later, probably focusing mostly on the map design, balance, possible improvements, and strategies for each nation.
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Re: 1870 AARs

Postby slayer666 » 25 Aug 2011, 23:54

Just saving a place. I'll write an AAR this evening. It was a great game - I hope everyone writes an AAR!
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Re: 1870 AARs

Postby diplomat42 » 26 Aug 2011, 01:04

Congrats Slayer. Saving a place, busy now.
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Re: 1870 AARs

Postby Spekulatius » 26 Aug 2011, 06:09

Well allow me to be the first to post! I would argue that being Persia was both very challenging and very exciting at the same time. I think that it was a position that required very little diplomacy at the start. At the same time, it was truly a challenge to slog through and make any progress.

I think that the map proved to be actually quite well balanced. I was very pleased to see that the Ottomans actually stood a chance even though they were a big target in the middle of the map. Russia was a difficult place to defend against, with the exception of the superSC in Novgorod.... that was just insane.

I will definitely add more as the conversation gets going, but I would be very interested in hearing what people thought of my map.

And let us please take a brief moment to thank our friend Yhanthlei for GMing this game! Couldn't have made this happen without you man, you rock :)
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Re: 1870 AARs

Postby Yhanthlei » 26 Aug 2011, 23:09

No problem at all, Spekulatius.

I really do like this map. It has a fair design balance and a great deal of personality to it, and the setting makes for an interesting combination of nations and geographical formations. With that said, I do have to make some notes and criticisms. I'd like to touch on three points, namely the naval bodies, the potential for bottlenecks and stalemate lines, and the triangular relationships.

First, the naval bodies. I think that this is the only map that I have ever seen which has disconnected bodies of water to occupy. Callhammer diplomacy has the black sea and baltic, but they can be accessed through Constantinople and Denmark or Sweden, respectively. Colonial has the eastern Mediterranean and black sea separated from the Indian and Pacific Oceans that make up the naval bulk, but they can still be accessed through control of Egypt and Constantinople. World scale games like Imperial and WW4 simply ignore inland bodies of water like the Caspian. Yet 1870 has three distinct bodies of water, the eastern Mediterranean-Black Sea, the Gulf of Arabia, and the Caspian Sea. This makes these bodies of water, especially the smaller eastern two, extremely dangerous to build in. Even when the region is secure, you end up with fleets unable to advance to any strategically useful position. Look at Persia's position in the end game, with two fleets in the Caspian and one in the Arabian Gulf. At that point, Persia was essentially three units weaker than should be the case. I think that the most suicidal move in the game (and yes, I'm including the Ottoman's early moves in this) was Persia's second fleet build in Teheran, prompting a second Russian fleet. Not only did it continue the stalemate instead of breaking it, but it ensured that whoever won between Russia and Persia would still be at a disadvantage when the time came to take on the west. I think that it was at that point that the main competition became between Britain and Austro-Hungary.

Second, stalemate lines. This map lends itself readily to stalemate lines and protracted holds, especially in the case of Persia. Consider the Callhammer map. There are roughly an equal number of land territories with supply centers and without supply centers (if I recall correctly, 34 each), and a fairly large number of naval territories. In contrast, 1870 has by my count 32 territories with supply centers and only 17 without, as well as having a much smaller number of naval territories. This results in the more close and crowded gameplay we saw in this game, and a greater difficulty in maneuvering around enemies. While the lack of any Switzerland type impassable space helps, the presence of three naval bodies effectively cuts land approaches into easily guarded corridors. As well, there are a few natural defensive positions on the board that can bog a game down. Persia's nigh impenetrable line holding Baghdad comes to mind, as well as the difficulty of taking British North Africe (the province), the difficulty of landing in a unified Balkans, and the ease of blockading the Russian corridor across Rostov and Makchala. I'm honestly suprised this game didn't end in a draw, and I'm not sure how Persia possibly could get a solo victory.

Finally, the triangular relationships. The Ottoman-Persian-Russian triangle seems to work well, and although we didn't see much of it this game there is potential for interaction between the Austro-Hungarians, Russians, and Ottomans along the Black Sea and Eastern Balkans. My concern is with Britain. Britain's only obvious path of expansion is through the Ottomans, along the coast past Mecca to Damascus, establishing a land presence on the mainland. In fact, that's pretty much what happened, although with a clever trick to get Smyrna early changing the method. There is of course a natural bounce opportunity with the Austro-Hungarians in Libya, but there isn't much real potential for the British to make gains against the Austro-Hungarians. The Ionian corridor is too narrow for that. The only real way in would be to make gains agound Greece, and I'm not sure whether it would be sane for an Ottoman player to allow the British into Patra.

To make some recommendations, I would look for ways to connect the bodies of water. Perhaps allowing movement between the Red Sea and Arabian Sea would help one problem while also allowing for greater interaction between Britain and Persia. Expanding the map south around the Arabian Peninsula could accomplish the same thing, if it made a naval connection. The caspian is a trickier problem. A canal making Novgorod more like Denmark or Constantinople would help things on the Russian side but not the Persian side, and may only make the issues caused by Russia's critical central supply center worse. Perhaps a rule allowing for voluntary naval disbands if you control the entire coast? It would be inelegant, but a possible remedy. As well, it would greatly help to increase the number of non supply center land provinces as well as the number of naval territories, or even by reducing the number of supply centers. This would allow much greater tactical maneuvering and reduce stalemate lines. As for the issue with the triangular relationships, I think that that could be probably be solved with a rearrangement of the Mediterranean provinces.

I'll post thoughts about the game itself later, if I find the time.
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Re: 1870 AARs

Postby Spekulatius » 28 Aug 2011, 06:38

Hey again. Thanks so much for that detailed critique, Yhanthlei. I will definitely start making changes to the map. I will post one when I get to it and hope to see some more AARs in the near future!!
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Re: 1870 AARs

Postby diplomat42 » 02 Sep 2011, 22:34

Here are my (vacation-delayed) thoughts.

1. The players: I thought everyone was a very good player, and some good diplomacy put me in trouble early. The only problem was Gabroi, and that stuff happens. I think the GM was the best I've ever had, and it was a fun game.

2. The Rules: My only disappointment was that we really didn't care about coasts, which is partly a map issue.

3. The map: I see this as the only thing keeping this from a being a great game, and unfortunately I think it can be game-killing. Persia seems like it's well thought out, except for the mentioned sea issues. Britain has only one true path of expansion, and unfortunately I didn't realize that soon enought. That, IMO, means Britain is a poorly-designed power. All powers in Diplomacy have at least 2 or 3 or even 4 options. Britain has 1. Russia also has the Caspian problem. Another issue is the Novgorod SC. I think it breeds conflict between Austria and Russia because if Austria gets in, Russia's in big trouble. I think it should be split and a buffer should be created. Austria is another well thought out power, with 2 or three options. The sea zones, no offense to the creator intended, are very poorly laid out. The Black Sea is difficult to change, but it means a Russian F Sev can do tons of damage and requires 2 Ottoman fleets to stop. Bosphorus seems like a pointless territory, and I think it should be incorporated into a Black Sea realignment or the Aegean. I'm not really the expert on Caspian tactics, but having a completely land-locked sea seems kind of strange. Unfortunately, that is unavoidable unless you create a canal to the Black Sea which would pose some interesting (and unrealistic) strategic and tactical options. As for the Arabian Sea, eliminate it or make it impassable or allow it to connect to the Caspian through another canal. It's just annoying and really doesn't serve a purpose. Also, to dislodge a fleet there you need 2 fleets of your own... 3 fleets for such a small area?

The Med needs layout refinement. The Ionian will be a troublemaker for Britain and Austria, and they can't really fight which just makes it a nuisance. I suggest splitting it in half. I also suggest splitting the Eastern Mediterranean in half because it seems to lead only to a fight between Britain and Austria. It's another problem zone. Also, by doing this you can make Cyprus a passable (SC?) territory.

And, of course, my thoughts on the Ottoman Empire.

I was surrounded by...everybody. This is a major map flaw, as that made my diplomacy a bit too bland (for example, there was no "hey, we're not neighbors but do you want to attack Austria together"). I see 2 results for the Ottoman player.
Result A (this game): Betrayed early by 2 players, which leads to the others attacking him. Spekulatius said that I did well. I think that's totally wrong: I survived, as did all but 1 other player, all because of luck: Austria stabbing Britain at the exact time Britain goes AWOL, allowing me to live. In only a slightly different game, I'm eliminated.
Result B: Betrayed early by less than 2 players, quickly grows outward in all directions (taking only neutrals) and attacks one player and crushes them. Wins an easy solo.

I've gotta go now, so I'll discuss Anatolia and Baghdad later.
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