Army Trieste

Anything about the Diplomacy game in general.

Army Trieste

Postby Radical Pumpkin » 09 Jan 2018, 21:01

A question for those old hands well versed in Diplomacy history.

Austria and Italy have long been seen as notably weaker than the other powers, and the conventional wisdom is that this stems from the structure of the board. (Adjacent home centers, Austria's vulnerable starting position, and Italy's comparatively difficult expansion opportunities.) Fleet Rome was a variant partly aimed at addressing this imbalance by weakening Italy's incentive to attack Austria early and improving its ability to expand elsewhere. However, my sense is that it is generally regarded as a failure--it's certainly never become as popular as the base game!--probably because it limits Italian flexibility too much.

So, the question: has anyone every seriously explored an Army Trieste variant? I.e., exactly the same as the base game, but Austria starts with 3 armies? It seems like an obvious idea, but I don't think I've ever come across mention of it. It's not so clear it would help Italy, but it does seem like it would at least help Austria get off to a good start.

I can imagine reasons the variant wouldn't work. It does give Austria a more realistic early attack against Italy, for one thing, and maybe that weakens Italy too much. But it seems to me that Italy has a good argument for Austria to demur: Austria will have a hard time getting past Venice with no starting fleets, and meanwhile it will be inviting an RT to swoop in from the rear. What's more, if a beefed-up Austria is focused east, then it's a bit easier for Italy to go west at the start of the game, since an RT will take a little longer to eat the Austrian dots. Another possible objection is that the variant gives Austria enough flexibility to contest Rumania. Maybe that weakens Russia too much. But a) Russia is probably one of the strongest powers in base Diplomacy, and b) adding another contestable neutral does seem like it would make the game more interesting. A third objection is that the Austrian fleet is an interesting wildcard if Austria stays in the game, creating diplomatic tension with the more naval Mediterranean powers. In the Army Trieste variant, Austria may have a hard time ever building a fleet, and so this tension is lost.

Still, it seems to me like there's enough potential there that people would have tried it out a long time ago. Have they, and what were the results?
Radical Pumpkin
 
Posts: 835
Joined: 31 Oct 2010, 15:58
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1599)
All-game rating: (1620)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Army Trieste

Postby nanooktheeskimo » 09 Jan 2018, 21:10

The biggest problem I see...is that it basically guarantees an A/I alliance if both A/I are smart players. Because Austria can't get past Venice without leaving his flank totally exposed....and he can't stab Italy in the mid game effectively without a fleet, so almost any stab would be telegraphed.


It's not a bad idea, and if you subscribe to the idea that A/I and R/T should always be allied then it makes a lot of sense, but if you're a believer in flexible alliance structures, then it makes less sense as it increases rigidity in terms of alliance options for Austria.
Platinum Classicist
(h/t lordelindel)

I am your (co-) Leader.

GM of Sengoku, Heptarchy 14.

NorthEast

Need a forum game GM'ed? PM me!

Mod (but I'm normally not talking as one)
User avatar
nanooktheeskimo
Premium Member
 
Posts: 6123
Joined: 19 Jun 2014, 19:52
Location: East TN
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: 1209
All-game rating: 1397
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Army Trieste

Postby jay65536 » 09 Jan 2018, 22:04

Speaking purely speculatively, not aware of the history, I would say that an Austria with 3 armies severely unbalances the game in favor of Austria. Just think about how screwed Russia would be if Austria were allowed to open A Tri-Ser, A Bud-Rum, A Vie-Gal--or A Tri-Ser, A Bud S Vie-Gal. In general, think about how much stronger Austria would be if Rum and Gre were equally viable second build options for Austria in 1901. Even more than that, imagine the carnage if Austria could play Vie-Boh or Vie-Tyr and still be able to use the other two armies to pick up builds.

Also I disagree with your assertion that Russia is naturally a strong power. (Every single Russian neutral is already contestable.) I further disagree with the "wisdom" that the reason Austria is considered weak is based on the structure of the board. I believe Austria is considered weak because the conventional wisdom on how to play Austria correctly is weak.

By the way, as far as I know, Fleet Rome was discarded not because it makes Italy too weak, but because it makes Austria too strong.
jay65536
 
Posts: 113
Joined: 10 Sep 2016, 18:13
Class: Ambassador
Standard rating: 1090
All-game rating: 1096
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Army Trieste

Postby DQ » 09 Jan 2018, 23:11

jay65536 wrote:Speaking purely speculatively, not aware of the history, I would say that an Austria with 3 armies severely unbalances the game in favor of Austria. Just think about how screwed Russia would be if Austria were allowed to open A Tri-Ser, A Bud-Rum, A Vie-Gal--or A Tri-Ser, A Bud S Vie-Gal. In general, think about how much stronger Austria would be if Rum and Gre were equally viable second build options for Austria in 1901. Even more than that, imagine the carnage if Austria could play Vie-Boh or Vie-Tyr and still be able to use the other two armies to pick up builds.

Also I disagree with your assertion that Russia is naturally a strong power. (Every single Russian neutral is already contestable.) I further disagree with the "wisdom" that the reason Austria is considered weak is based on the structure of the board. I believe Austria is considered weak because the conventional wisdom on how to play Austria correctly is weak.

By the way, as far as I know, Fleet Rome was discarded not because it makes Italy too weak, but because it makes Austria too strong.


Dammit Jay. I spent months preparing a response to this and you .... you just posted it! :lol:
Stab you soon!
User avatar
DQ
 
Posts: 221
Joined: 11 Sep 2008, 14:29
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: 1062
All-game rating: 1063
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Army Trieste

Postby Machiara » 09 Jan 2018, 23:35

jay65536 wrote:I believe Austria is considered weak because the conventional wisdom on how to play Austria correctly is weak.


Jay, you're burying the lede. Tell us more about your thoughts on this!
Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.

No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time a steady eye.

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Machiara
Premium Member
 
Posts: 165
Joined: 02 Feb 2016, 19:50
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: 1973
All-game rating: 2001
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Army Trieste

Postby jay65536 » 09 Jan 2018, 23:54

Machiara wrote:
jay65536 wrote:I believe Austria is considered weak because the conventional wisdom on how to play Austria correctly is weak.


Jay, you're burying the lede. Tell us more about your thoughts on this!


That's a whole other thread, buddy.
jay65536
 
Posts: 113
Joined: 10 Sep 2016, 18:13
Class: Ambassador
Standard rating: 1090
All-game rating: 1096
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Army Trieste

Postby Machiara » 10 Jan 2018, 00:54

You should start one! I'm interested in your take.
Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.

No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time a steady eye.

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Machiara
Premium Member
 
Posts: 165
Joined: 02 Feb 2016, 19:50
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: 1973
All-game rating: 2001
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Army Trieste

Postby Radical Pumpkin » 10 Jan 2018, 20:43

So, it sounds like the core response is that this is overkill that helps Austria's start too much. That does seem plausible, but as with many balance-related concerns in Diplomacy, much hinges on how the meta shakes out. I don't think it's likely to be true both that Army Trieste screws Russia completely and that it cements an AI alliance from game start; if the meta is that Austria goes after Russia at game start, then Venice-Trieste, Rome-Venice starts looking like a pretty appealing Italian opening.

I do find it interesting how a single unit change at game start can flip the perception from "Austria is one of the weaker powers" to "Austria is overpowered." (I know, jay65536, that you don't think Austria is weak, but still.) Makes me wonder how the game was ever designed with a reasonable level of balance in the first place when minor changes have such a huge impact.
Radical Pumpkin
 
Posts: 835
Joined: 31 Oct 2010, 15:58
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1599)
All-game rating: (1620)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Army Trieste

Postby WHSeward » 10 Jan 2018, 21:01

Radical Pumpkin wrote:Makes me wonder how the game was ever designed with a reasonable level of balance in the first place when minor changes have such a huge impact.


Playtesting.
A bit of luck.
Genius.
All of the above.
"As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish, or droop and decline, in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity." WHS

A member of the Classicists.

Ask me about mentor games. Send me a PM or post in the Mentoring forum.
User avatar
WHSeward
Premium Member
 
Posts: 2885
Joined: 29 Dec 2012, 22:16
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1633)
All-game rating: (1647)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Army Trieste

Postby jay65536 » 10 Jan 2018, 22:57

Radical Pumpkin wrote:I don't think it's likely to be true both that Army Trieste screws Russia completely and that it cements an AI alliance from game start


Me neither. It was 2 different people who said those things.

Also, in response to the comment about the meta, I don't think the change makes Austria so good that she wins every game or that certain countries must be rushing to be allied with her; I just think it unbalances the game. It means that on those occasions when Austria has a good relationship with Italy, Russia suffers immensely right out of the gate.
jay65536
 
Posts: 113
Joined: 10 Sep 2016, 18:13
Class: Ambassador
Standard rating: 1090
All-game rating: 1096
Timezone: GMT-5

Next

Return to Diplomacy Lore

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mjparrett and 2 guests