World War IV: AAR's

GM: BigBert. Winners: DOI (Canada), AardvarkArmy (California), asudevil (Amazon empire), Girion (Argentina), paulus (Kenya), thewysecat (Nigeria), and Chelonoidis (Song Empire)

Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby Imperatrix » 09 Mar 2013, 01:32

A continuing narration of the rise and fall of the Thai empire.

Act II: An End to Innocence (2107-2111)

Canada, it seems, felt like expanding into Asia. Apparently with Manchurian connivance, a series of Canadian armies began assembling in the far north. I did not really care either way what happened to Manchuria, so long as it did not devour Song. But it turned out that Canada’s aspirations were connected to my own in ways I did not appreciate.

It seems that Indonesia had been a very busy international beaver. His naval growth in the Pacific had run him into conflict with Oceania and Argentina, and he needed aquatic allies. For this purpose, he turned to California and Canada. And these apparently told him that they wanted Song dead. Why Song? Because everyone knew Manchuria was soon to go, and his sizable centres would be left to either Song (and a bit to me) or to Canada and California. So Song’s demise was the price Indonesia would have to pay.

But Song’s elimination was not really in Indonesia’s power to deliver, at least not without my help. Unfortunately, at just about that moment I had decided that Song was a really worthy ally, and I had no desire to attack him. In fact, I formally proposed that my great southern alliance would officially welcome Song as one of our members! India and Australia immediately agreed (why not?) but Indonesian vetoed the proposal. In fact, Indonesia ordered me, it was time to stab Song.

This was the hardest decision of the entire game for me. It’s difficult to understand now, more than a year later, but at the time Song was not my closest ally. That was clearly Indonesia – and even my second-closest ally was India, not Song! So when Indonesia demanded that I move against Song, and when India reluctantly went along with the plan, I was very much squeezed. Further, it was at least in my short-term interest to make the stab. Song was not in a good position to defend himself; Indonesia and I could have killed him pretty easily, and I would have gotten most of the gains. There would have been chaos in Asia afterward, but I at least would enter the chaos in possession of most of China. All this Indonesia pointed out to me, again and again.

But I couldn’t do it. Song was a good ally. He had earned the right not to be treated that way. He’d been accommodating and reasonable, given helpful advice, and generally been enjoyable to talk to. I could not bring myself to stab him. He did not deserve it – and in my book, desert does have something to do with it. So, instead, I proposed to Indonesia that I should continue north, against Russia. Indonesia was not happy – he saw all of his work with CanCal disappearing, and he seemed to be considering attacking Song on his own. For a moment, I faced the miserable prospect of being forced to choose among my allies.

Then something even worse happened. Indonesia (MasterGR) dropped out of the game. And, that very same turn, so did India (slayer666)! All at once, my two closest allies, the centre of my game-long strategy, simply disappeared. Both were replaced by unreliable players with uncertain goals. My southern alliance was not destroyed, but it had become mostly worthless. (Spare a thought here for poor Australia, who was left to inevitable doom as South Africa and Argentina closed in.)

I’ll pause the narrative here for a moment of analysis. For me, this game was utterly plagued by allies dropping out. Japan did it, India did it, Russia (much later) did it. And no less than three different Indonesian players did it. As I’m sure all will appreciate, it is extraordinarily difficult to play this sort of massive game when long-term allies suddenly disappear. Months of work on diplomacy and planning can be wasted. And when players repeatedly drop from one country, as happened in Indonesia (and the UK) it just becomes impossible to take one’s own choices very seriously. There is no logic or fun to predicting the moves of a country likely to be controlled by a wholly different person in one or two turns. I don’t think it is too impertinent to point out that all those who made it to the end of this game had primary allies who never quit.

Back to the narrative, back more than a year ago. I made an immediate decision after my Indonesian and Indian allies disappeared. I reversed my direction, from a south alliance pointed northward to a northern alliance pointed southward. The connection with Song became my primary alliance, from then through the rest of the game. And I started thinking about Russia, who had been quite reasonable in our dealings over Central Asia. Perhaps Russia might be better as an ally than an enemy?

By this point Manchuria was effectively eliminated, and Song and I had decided to avoid major hostilities with an onrushing Canada. But this left me entirely surrounded by allies, or at least by those upon whom I wished no harm. I really was not sure what to do. Happily, the new Indian player made my choice easy.

I stabbed India. This was my second and last stab of the game, and it was a big mistake. Making the stab was not itself a mistake. The new India began sending me bizarre requests for useless convoy orders, then failed to carry out several promised supports, and finally stopped replying to my messages. I suspected an incipient stab; I thought the new India had come to some form of agreement with Kenya, who was attacking him from the west. It turned out that India was not treacherous, only incompetent. Not the player’s fault – apparently it was only his second game of Diplomacy. But I did not know this fact at the time. I read his inexplicable behavior as poor cover for a possible impending betrayal. Or, at the very least, it indicated that he wasn’t much use as an ally. To be honest, I also saw benefit from getting the whole thing over with. So I struck first.

The mistake was not in stabbing India, but in how I executed the stab. I told no one (except Song) that I planned to do it, for fear that others might warn India. And this was fantastically successful in the short term. India was completely unprepared, and I managed to seize most of his important centres within a couple turns. The trouble was Kenya. I genuinely meant no harm to Kenya; I really did wish to split south Asia with him and find amicable borders somewhere. But I failed to communicate this early enough, or clearly enough, and in retrospect I can see that he had every reason to suspect ill intent on my part. He had been at war with India for a long time, and I swooped in and grabbed much of the loot without consulting him. Further, India’s collapse left nothing between my west coast and Kenya’s east, except miles and miles of Indian Ocean. Now I had to build a navy, which Kenya quite reasonably saw as a threat (though I really did only intend it defensively).

Anyway, I failed to work out a livable arrangement with Kenya. And therefore I spent the rest of the game – nearly a year in real-life terms – engaged in endless, pointless war in south Asia. It did not help that India decided I was a terrible monster and so swore fealty to Kenya and Nigeria (until later, once they had an advantage, they stabbed him). There were a few brief moments, early on, that with a bit better luck I would have been able to eliminate India completely and perhaps force Kenya to a stalemate. But I guessed a couple of moves incorrectly, and after that the best case scenario in the Indian theater was costly stasis. India, in effect, became my Vietnam, my Afghanistan.

Kenya, I have to point out, showed remarkable bravery. When our war first began, I had a substantial advantage in unit numbers and no other enemies, and he took a real risk that I might break through and hold a grudge against him. But then perhaps he knew what was about to happen to me, up in the north...
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby thewysecat » 11 Mar 2013, 02:35

So how did I - broadly speaking - go about my game?

A. Pick the right power
Well as Stalin813 already noted Nigeria is a good pick - my pre-game choices were 1. Nigeria & 2. California. Why? Well, naturally you want a naval power given the board's limiting features already discussed. You want access to a major ocean in such a way that it can get you off your continent (ENA - look at how vital that space it to me), while also somehow making it hard for someone from another continent (i.e. South America) to invade (occupying ESA & GOG help protect me). The vastness of the Pacific makes California an even better defensive position, but getting into South America looks more problematic for California than trying to get into Europe from Nigeria.

If you calculate the SC:powers ratio of the Americas it is more generous than Africa, but dominating the Med looks doable. In particular, also look at Egypt's start position - surely one of the worst. It has 2 fleets on the Med but will run straight into the Turks and Catholica who will not wish to see them dominate navally and Iran's armies are likely coming his way via Arabia too. He should be easy to pick off as long as Nigeria asserts itself and takes Ngr & Cha in 01. Negotiating the key SC of CPV in 01 should also be doable. California needs to drive for the Mexican Gulf asap so that it can have units on both sides of the landmass, but Nigeria has the tantalising prospect of using the Suez Canal to get to the east if it can dominate the Med.

Nigeria should double to 6 SCs by the end of 01 and still have the neutrals of Tom and Dak to pick up. Likely it can get Ban too if Egypt has been dislodged from Cha there (it was) as it also ploughs into Egyptian home SCs. It just needs Congo and Catholica to play nice for 2 or 3 years while this is unfolding and that should be very manageable for an active diplomat. All in all a good place to start.

B. Try to ignore the full conquest of the continent you're on until later
So, my plan is to kill Egypt and to make some allies in Africa. This is because my other assumption is that I don't want to spend time 'winning' my continent before trying to invade another. Those SCs closer to home can hopefully be collected later in the game, but if I delay someone else doing the same thing in Europe - for example - will be too well established to be dislodged. tempo is one of the most important and least understood/valued concepts in Diplomacy. This is like England driving hard for Tunis in the regular game. It is your likely 18th SC for the solo as England, but should not be the 18th SC you try and take as England if you follow me.

Anyway, that also means that I need something useful for those African allies to be doing rather than looking to the North of Africa. If I ever get to do my game turn chronology you will see how much focus I have on the Indian Ocean. This is true for several reasons. Eventually I hope to emerge there myself via Suez, but in the meantime I need to conquer Europe and so I need some friends defending Africa's east coast on my behalf from the likes of Iran, India and Indonesia (and Australia as it turns out). in my judgement Congo is a loose cannon we can all do without so I recruit Kenya and South Africa into an 'African Union' before Spring 03 with the purpose of killing off Congo and then sending fleets eastwards to defend Africa's eastern coastline.

That is a nice cul-de-sac to keep South Africa in particular busy and with a unit mix that cannot be repurposed to any other task later...like attacking me. Once committed he likely cannot extricate myself though I do recall Heritikyl asking to stab Girion at some point and being talked out of that by me. Again, I may talk to this later, but one of the most vital events of the game happened in Fall 05. We attempted to convoy an army to Perth and left SIO vulnerable. It was lost not to be regained for a long time. We should have convoyed to SOZ via GAB and protected SIO. This held up South Africa for a very long time and meant that when we finally did break Indonesia-Australia is was due to force of arms by Girion's navy and not Heritikyl's. That meant Africa met Argentina in the South Seas far further west of the Americas than I had intended/hoped. That ultimately meant that my plans to get into the Indian Ocean later to try and get at the SCs there that I needed for a win would never really fly. That tempo loss in 05 was a game changer. I doubt anyone else really noticed.

C. Build an alliance structure that gets me through the early game as I maximise finite resources
My initial plan was to go to Europe, but that could have been amended with a journey to South America I suppose, but I just didn't think there were enough SCs in the Southern hemisphere to win this relative to trying to conquering Eurasia (reflective of the World's Geography). So naturally I took an early interest in South America with a view to establishing a DMZ of the South Atlantic so that all my resources could focus north and not defend my west (or my south or east which were safe due to my African friends) . I had good initial correspondence with all the South American powers. Girion seemed a good communicator as did Asudevil and I was convinced that neither would ever NMR (a key criterion). I also knew Ninjaruler in Brazil was aged 12 and likely going to be dead fast. When that played out it left Amazon and Argentina allied and since I enjoyed good relations with both I conceptualised the Southern Alliance - this quickly evolved into a plan to work together for a 5-way draw for us.

From Winter 2103, I negotiated it with Girion and Asudevil before bringing it to the African Union. Girion and Asudevil wanted to exclude Paulus in Kenya but I insisted on his inclusion. This was because of my interest in Suez and the pathway to the Indian Ocean. His fleets were going to be vital to keeping the mouth of the Red Sea and SOB free of Indian, Iranian and Indonesian forces. Taking him out would have lost vital tempo and handed that precious commodity to enemies to the east of Africa.

At the time I wrote this:

thewysecat wrote:...attacking Kenya is a distraction and misuse of resources. It takes time when our forces are needed elsewhere in more important threatres of action. Tempo is the key. In particular, it would take 2-3 game years before we could rebuild the fleets Kenya has now in key areas. I guestimate it would take us a minimum of 2 game years to complete the conquest. But to rebuild the fleets you have to capture the port one year and then wait a whole year to vacate it for a build in it. Then again to vacate it you have to have fleets in the ocean outside it to keep it from being stolen potentially by India (or anyone else hostile). That will all therefore take at least 3 game years and probably 4. Ergo, it is simpler to say to Kenya - do as we say with those fleets and we'll look after to you. That is in essence what we have done in killing Congo to help defend our Eastern ports and hence coast. At one point India was in SOB and DEI. We have fought him off and only have him in GAD now. Kenya has been integral to that. Only now can I build a fleet in Egypt for example, but that will be needed in the Med.

So I was nice to Paulus and essentially saved him from Congo and then spared him so that he did indeed pretty much do as I said...at least until the last couple of game years.

More broadly, in a game this vast every advantage in tempo and SC count in the first few years of the game will accrue like the compound interest of a loan shark (look at the inverse example cited above of Africa's failure to hold on to SIO and convoy into Australia in 05). Subtlety was not the growth plan in this variant. I meant to frontrun and use my allies for similar tempo gains.

D. Responding to the early game of others
Ok, so before Spring 1904 all the key pieces of my strategy were in place, but of course my game could and would have evolved differently depending on the actions of other players. It is worth remembering what was going on elsewhere.

Regions quickly agreeing 4 or 5-player alliances was hardly rocket science. AA has talked about the Pacific alliance. Imperatrix has described the alliance in the east around the Indian Ocean. Well in Europe they were clearly playing a 4-way alliance from Spring 01. The UK was to head west across the Atlantic to the east coast of North America. Catholica planned to dominate the Med. Germany was driving for Anatolia with Russia's help around Armenia and Russia itself was going heads up with Central Asia. This meant I could make friendly noises with Catholica for a couple of game years but soon would have to fight him for North African SCs and then go up against any power in Europe who might want to help him. This chiefly proved to be Germany.

Iran was aligned with India which was itself clearly in an alliance with Indonesia, Thailand and Australia. That meant that Iran immediately stabbed Turkey and headed into Arabia while India instantly threatened the coastline of Africa. With Kenya unable to respond given Congo's assault, India was already in GAD and SOB by Fall 02! That was alot of units coming in the direction of Africa. Responding to these twin threats of major power-structures to north and east also made the African Union and Southern Alliance imperative in 2103. The first aim of the African Union was what I called African Freedom day - the day that all foreign forces were excluded from both our continent and the sea areas bordering our continent.

Keeping my finger on the pulse of all these power alignments was also vital. The scope of diplomatic activity in the early game was vast. Naturally I was speaking to all of Africa and South America as described. Likewise North Atlantic powers like the US, Canada & UK plus Catholica, Germany, Russia, Iran, India, Indonesia and Central Asia. The only areas I did not keep an eye on were (i) North-west and Central America (Cal, Texas, Mexico, Illinois, Cuba); and (ii) China and the Far East (Thai, Song, Japan etc). It was too exhausting and not even I could come up with a reason why they should want to talk to me yet.

In a regular game, my main premise for setting up a solo is keep the game high complexity and high chaos and more chaotic and complex away from me than in my parts of the map. That means talking to everyone in an effort to stop their areas from consolidating while keeping my own growth less restricted. Well I couldn't really meddle in China or North America to foster dischord and dog-fights so the closest to that premise I could manage in a game this large was to retain one key element of that strategy...

E. Keeping minor powers alive and allying with them
Using a former foe as your own shocktroops along a front far in advance of your current positioning has all sorts of tempo advantages and can often catch an anticipated future enemy beyond your current frontline by surprise. This was the founding principle of the Southern Alliance that I lamented as being badly broken with the stab of Haroonriaz in the US in 2117. I wrote the following in Winter 2103 to my four partners as we concluded our partnership. I considered it akin to our 'constitution':

thewysecat wrote:Gents,...

...Beyond this early consolidation phase I am not sure of exact targets.

I am however sure of some principles I'd like to advocate when choosing a direction for any of us.

Wherever we see consolidation that is not our own....we don't like it! We like to see folks fall out who were previously allied (e.g. Iran and India) and work for that falling out. Additionally, we like plucky little 5-6 SC powers fighting on their own being a nuisance to some other area of consolidation. We help and support them. [In later phases of the game the scale of SCs will increase but the principle remains the same]

As a case study - Oceania. Taking 3 SCs off him and having another 3 fall to Australia-Indonesia is not that good an outcome for us. We want Oceania to harrass and tie up that rival alliance's time and resources. Oceania is not a threat long-term. He is going nowhere. Aus-Indonesia might be a problem. That remains to be seen. We therefore want to come to Oceania's aid. Weaken Aus-Indonesia from the west. Prop up Oceania from the east. Argentinian fleets in the Pacific should come to Oceania's aid if he wants it, and when we have board position and Aus-Indonesia is on the ropes somewhat then we cash in on Oceania's SCs if we want them. Timing is crucial of course. This case study maybe false. I may have the facts wrong, but as a matter of principle we should find every minor power and make them like us. They should think: "I have lost this game but at least I am fighting to the death and hurting that *@#$ over there by working with those nice Southern Alliance guys." *@#$ in this scenario should be some rival alliance that is consolidating into a medium sized power alignment that might threaten our own consolidation in the long-run.

How can a 4 SC Cuba help us?
How might an Iran under pressure 'invite' us into his domain to 'help' him?
How might the Turks view the evil Europeans invading Anatolia and the Balkans?
How might Mexico view Argentina once a big nasty Californian power come his way?
Etc etc.

Make sense?

Wyse

And so we worked it.

In South America, Girion and Asudevil used Columbia in this way - persuading him to acquiesce in the destruction of a NMR-weakened Aztec power before being consumed himself. I forget how it panned out, but a potential mistake there was stabbing him too quickly before using him to get further north into Mexico. How Oceania was indeed utilised in the way that I describe is well-known. How the US was worked that way before being prematurely - in my view- stabbed is also known.

For my part, I...

(i) Recruited the 2 SC replacment Turks (matgopack) to harrass Catholica until I was established in the Med

(ii) Turned a 3 SC replacement Catholica (Willie900) to my side and convoyed his last army out of Africa into Marseilles to take it from the UK. His units were vital in driving Germany out of Italy and allowing me access to Greece and France (Bdx and Bur)

(iii) Turned a defeated 3-4 SC UK (drrnwrstlr had been my foe) and used his navy to drive Canada out of the North Atlantic (at one point DOI was in NAT and LAB). I gave the UK back home SCs like Lon and Ire (that I could easily retake later at any time) in exchange for tougher nuts like AZO and precious service in helping me take areas like LAB and HUD to seal off the North Atlantic

(iv) Recruited Iran (Yhanthlei) when he was stabbed by India to invest Arabia, Anatolia and Persia with Nigerian-Kenyan forces so that we could prop up Iran and hold up India's progress (and that of Indonesia & Australia). The Iranian navy was disbanded as part of the deal. Via these means, Paulus gained control of his coast, the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. This lack of progress by India in Persia exposed (a new) India to Thai's stab which meant that when it happened I...

(v) Turned India (FragerZ) to our side and gained access to NIO and used his fleets to directly convoy African forces into India while using his armies to harrass Imperatrix. This was the kind of tempo gain that Thailand could never have anticipated. At that point Iran could also be quickly dispatched as he was regretfully no longer of any use.

This perhaps goes some way to answering BigBert's question about Russia.

BigBert wrote:Wyse, regarding your upcoming reply to GhostEcho: were you actually going to let him live? That is, sufficiently long for him to be able to recover? The scheme you proposed - attack Thailand and I will take just 5 SCs - leaves him at your mercy for a long time afterwards. Were you really planning to honour that deal indefinitely?

I offered him my standard deal. As already mentioned, I just put very little effort into it because - unlike those above - Russia had very little to offer me tactically at that point. I did it out of habit and because even if I could induce one sub-optimal order set from Russia (him attacking Thailand on my behalf as my advanced front) it would likely do some (if minimal) harm to Thailand's tempo but would absolutely seal Russia's fate since Thailand would withdraw all future support. She was most certainly not the forgiving type.

So all of these powers should have turned me down? Thailand did when it came her turn.

I think they all chose between (a) certain death and (b) almost certain death and honoured the game and their VCs by picking the later. On an emotional level they also got to stick it to the power doing them down. Ultimately (vi) Song took my offer and because of it he was in the final draw. I commend Chelonoidis for it and don't begrudge it at all. Since I consider a 2-player and 15-player draw as the same result (thinking otherwise is the pathway to ugly ignoble draw-whittling) I always essentially offer the same deal - if there is a draw I will never exclude you and thus by extension I will only stab you if I think it credibly potentially leads to my solo. I will on principle only post or accept a DIAS draw (It's also the game's rules you know!). In this game I posted when South Africa had one SC and though I 'knew' others would not accept while he lived I certainly was fine with him being included.

(vii) I recruited the new South Africa (kingswifty) after he was stabbed by Girion and persuaded him to disband all his units in South Africa so that he could resist Argentina as much as possible. Unfortunately he NMRed and went AWOL only one phase later so apart from the disbands I profited little.

Overall, I sought to maximise tempo and tactical resources. Tempo also drove my tactical play. I likely will not have time to discuss, but if you care to - you can review my order sets and see what sort of thing I mean. Put simply convoy is better than move is better than support is better than hold. It really is that simple and is true of the regular game too. Think about it. Weakest most overused order? Defensive support. If you write very few of those you've played a high-tempo and tactically bold game
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby thewysecat » 11 Mar 2013, 02:40

asudevil wrote:Had you come to me with a plan to knock out Girion, I would have considered it. Considered it hard. But I never thought about it because I never could trust you enough to not be pushing for that solo, and I knew I would need Girion strong to hold you back

No mention of your hypothetical solo - only ever mine. And so it went. Thus I remain convinced that I made the only call I could as I was reading you correctly. This began in 2112 when I had 35 SCs and you 25. I say that is far too early for such thinking. Everyone can make their own mind up.

What is also lost in the mix is the conflating of fear of 'Wyse solo' with fear of 'Nigerian invasion of South America'. The reader either understands the significance of this point at this juncture or they don't so I shan't rehash.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby thewysecat » 11 Mar 2013, 03:22

Imperatrix, I am grateful for your AAR posts. The last one is interesting for how it discusses Kenya's play.

To be clear, in Winter 2109 I reached out to and recruited FragerZ to the African cause - Paulus could not believe it that it had been achieved so bitter were Kenyan-Indian relations before then. Paulus was genuinely confused when I wrote to him with proposed moves in 2110 that assumed India was an ally. He thought I'd lost my mind. This is the sort of thing he means when he writes:

paulus wrote:He clearly had the pulse of everyone. Some turns we’d be at war with an opponent, and on other turns, through Nigeria’s skill and tenacity, we were not only at peace, but my former enemy was offering himself over. It was more than one occasion that Nigeria exquisitely influenced a former foe to fall on the sword. It appeared to be done with apparently committed players, as easily as with new comers who had never even played a forum game. I needed occasional reminders as to who we were at war with for the upcoming turn. I must admit, I was often unable to keep up with the Nigerian diplomatic machinations, and am grateful that he allowed me to hover in his orbit.

I also consider the Indian campaign one of the most interesting achievements in own my game. The soldiers were Kenyan (and Indian), but the diplomats and generals were Nigerian. I wrote the orders for all the units there from Spring 2110 until India was Kenyan. I invite anyone to look at the map in Fall 2109 and anticipate Thailand being held off at all so exposed was India to Thailand's stab. I got FragerZ to disband most of his navy and rallied what was left of his army to set up a kind of frontline from ASH to MHR in combination with Kenyan armies convoyed from Arabia initially by Indian fleets! Even so I'd invite anyone to look at the map in Fall 2113 and anticipate that Thailand would be driven out of India. Very small margins were slowly leveraged and Imperatrix herself decided that being out in front of the Himalayas was not worth it and that a better stalemate line could be retreated to...This is often sound policy in regular Diplomacy. Too often people risk 50:50s in front of their final stalemate line that might lead to the fatal enemy breakthrough when they can just retreat 100% safely to their line. This however did not seem to be the case here. Nonetheless we would have taken Cal and Del. I was just surprised that we gained a couple of phases of tempo.

Anyway, this map tended to slog-fests rather than elegant tactical play and India was no exception, but my favourite resolution of the game was in Fall 2116 when we kept Imperatrix out of the vital area of BOB against all the odds by anticipating her order set. That opportunity itself was created by good play from her in seizing NIO in Spring 2116 and through an increasingly uncommunicative Heritikyl failing to occupy SOB the phase before to help defend NIO.

For the record, we also never stabbed FragerZ who I must commend highly. Though his game was 'dead' and he was doing nothing else on the site he kept communicating and entering the orders I requested. He asked us to end his pain and take his SCs. In fact, we had to do it less quickly than he wanted as it took some care. His units were needed and working out which to remove/replace on the frontline and what could be disbanded safely as we took out Indian SCs behind the line was somewhat nuanced lest a Thai fightback be facilitated. Replacing him with Kenyan forces was not so easy, but he fell on his sword and was not stabbed.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby VGhost » 11 Mar 2013, 03:36

thewysecat wrote:GhostEcho, below is our entire correspondence:
...
For clarity, I wrote to you to see if I could get even one (misguidely) favourable (to me - i.e. anti-Thai) order set out of you in any one phase. Part of my thoroughness. At no point did I intend to do anything but kill you so that I could then try and get at Thailand.


This is all I really wanted to know. As we discussed briefly in-game, I think you played this correctly. However, you asked me to:

thewysecat wrote:Point out:

Where you "suggested you would be willing to co-operate"
How you formed an impression from this correspondence that I was "not willing to take risks"
Specifically what risk was I unwilling to take relating to this correspondence


Well here we go:

thewysecat wrote:Hello GhostEcho

Thanks for taking on Russia. I am your enemy. Well all but India of your neighbours are your enemies. Let me fill you in ... [short summary] ... So, I am willing to re-negotiate.

Welcome to the game

Wyse


This is what seemed to me the relevant portion of your message, and it matches your description of intention (quoted above) quite nicely.

Let me similarly trim down my reply to what seemed my main point:

GhostEcho wrote:At any rate, you have my assurance that I am not planning anything at the moment: some kind of consolidation is the best I am likely to achieve (although your Kenyan friend is a nuisance and I do actually have some armies there so he is not keeping Vol).

Assuming you're willing to halt your advance for a turn, that will give you a better idea what we are both thinking.


Bolded is my claim to be willing to cooperate. In mentioning Kenya I was trying to gauge your reaction toward aggression against your allies. You have essentially admitted you were unwilling at least in my case to risk making an ally of me in the statement I quoted above, and just planned to eliminate my Russia. Your follow-up correspondence (toward that end) seemed meant to convince me that Thailand was my only enemy. As it happened, Thailand was the only one who didn't offer any hostility towards me: so the disconnect between words and actions was rather brutal.

What I guess I'm getting at it this: what would it have taken you to reconsider your plans? Had you in fact held off for one turn, I would have been heavily inclined to come into the Nigerian fold - always pick a winner! - and then I might have made (from your point of view) either a useful ally or at least an easier elimination after I moved units East.

EDIT: I see you replied briefly to BigBert on this subject above, which clarifies things to some extent. Unfortunately I wasn't in the game long enough to have a good feel for the overall situation, and I don't have the time to study it (or access to more correspondence!)

I still feel, though I don't know that I could prove it, that you are/were being unrealistic in your expectations of other players. Your favorite allies seem to be the ones for whom you could simply write orders, for instance, while you appear to find players with different analyses than your own aggravating. I don't really have enough evidence to prove it, as I said, and I am not going to bother to compile every turn of phrase that has, considered as a whole, given me this impression: it would be most of what you've written. I offer this as a possible hypothesis, an observation based on a "feel" of the discussion to me. Again, I am not going to try to prove this further - take it or leave it.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby Imperatrix » 11 Mar 2013, 11:47

thewysecat wrote:I also consider the Indian campaign one of the most interesting achievements in own my game. The soldiers were Kenyan (and Indian), but the diplomats and generals were Nigerian. I wrote the orders for all the units there from Spring 2110 until India was Kenyan.


Now that is interesting... I don't have the time to go back and look at the orders from that era carefully, but I imagine they'd be quite interesting in this context. I wonder if what I thought of as bad luck was actually an underestimation of my opponents' competence. I assumed I was dealing with India, who during our brief alliance had shown little facility with tactics, and Kenya, who was definitely no slouch but not a virtuoso either. But it turns out I was fighting Nigeria long before our units ever collided! Had I known that then, I wonder if I would have written different orders, perhaps considered that the opposing units might make more elegant moves than I expected. And, of course, I didn't realize quickly enough that India's units were no longer acting in India's interests.

thewysecat wrote:For the record, we also never stabbed FragerZ who I must commend highly. Though his game was 'dead' and he was doing nothing else on the site he kept communicating and entering the orders I requested. He asked us to end his pain and take his SCs...


Hmm, well, I suppose that's some consolation for me. I did not have good luck with allies. Not only did they quit, but their countries were then taken over by players who surrendered themselves wholly to my enemies!

One of the middle Indonesias (I've forgotten which) offered me a similar arrangement - writing orders on his behalf while slowly taking his centres for myself. I considered it, but it felt out of keeping with the spirit of the game. Perhaps I ought to have done it: I turned the offer down and soon after, that Indonesia NMR and dropped out, like the others, costing us time and tactical losses.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby stalin813 » 11 Mar 2013, 12:05

The have taken two things from this AAR one of which I think as a community need to be addressed more.

1) The effect of NMRs on any games, but especially those with long game times. I wonder how many people feel their demise was the result of untimely NMRs from allies or NMRs of their own. Bigbert did an amazing job keeping this going, despite the high number of NMRs and Upquark's Haven looks promising with no massive NMRs to my knowledge. With such time commitment in these larger forum variants, we really need to look into some sort of player star rating or something.

Personally,

2) I completely underestimated the long term alliance structure of this game. I wonder if Song was really honest in his 2001 offer of peace and if I had taken it instead of Sichuan's how this game would have played out differently for me.

Also, my alliance with Canada near the end of my game was agreed that when/if it started going downhill with Song, I would let Canada take my centers as the price of cooperation. I worked really really hard to get Thailand to stab Song and I thought for a moment it had worked, I really wasn't planning to continue down the coast. I had sights set inland, but I was unaware how close those two had come in destroying Sichuan. Bad luck.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby Imperatrix » 11 Mar 2013, 12:16

The penultimate edition of the narrative of Thailand.

Act III: The Apotheosis of Siam (2111-2116)

Song was my ally, and then so was Russia. We worked together quite well, Russia and I. We dispatched Central Asia, and we flummoxed Canadian expansion. Perhaps most important to me, Russia was a fantastic source of intelligence. He talked to everyone, and shared quite a bit of what he heard. (For instance, Russia told me quite a bit about Nigeria’s style of play, which was useful for certain decisions I had to make later.) Once or twice, Russia and I even faked clashes with one another, over our long and unstable border, just so that people who disliked either of us would then come opportunistically courting. Of course, Russia and I immediately passed these messages along, and so came to know who our enemies might be.

Hence our new alliance: Russia, Thailand, Song. Together, the three of us had more than 60 units, which at that stage of the game was quite a lot. Put together, we were larger than the three Africans, or the two South Americans, or the two North Americans. Excepting the Latin/African bloc (whose existence was then still uncertain), we were actually the largest alliance in the game. And we got along well. After the shock of losing Indonesia and India, I came to really enjoy cooperating with Russia and Song.

Around 2110, we agreed to finalize the alliance. We made a Pact: we would never attack one another, nor assist anyone else in doing so. We would go to the end of the game together, and we each agreed to refuse any draw excluding any of us. Indeed, I thought, we were together strong enough to expand widely, or if that failed to force a draw fairly soon.

A digression here: I strongly disagree with others who maintain that soloing is the only proper aim of Diplomacy. I’m not interested in arguing the case here, but I do believe that in extraordinarily long games, games where over many months one comes to develop personal friendships with allies, it can be just as valuable to seek a cooperative victory. In fact, that roughly describes my ideal for a Diplomacy game: go in knowing no one, unsure who to trust, and figure out who really is reliable, who is worth committing yourself to right through the end. I prefer amicably shared victories over individual triumph. I recognize that not everyone has this preference, and I pass no judgment on those who prefer otherwise. I’m not interested in debating the matter right now. The point is only this: what I wanted was a bedrock alliance with good, faithful allies, and in Song and Russia I believed I had found it.

So Russia immediately stabbed me. I still don’t know exactly how this went down. According to Russia (some time later, once we were back on speaking terms), Nigeria came to him with an ultimatum: either Russia would attack me, or Nigeria would attack Russia. No other option. So – again according to Russia – he was terrified and felt he had no choice left but to turn against me. In retrospect, of course, I suspect there was far more opportunism on Russia’s part than this allows. Still, it is clear that Nigeria worked some dark diplomatic magic over Russia’s impressionable mind, for Russia then left his western flank mostly undefended.

Predictably (indeed, both Song and I predicted this to Russia) Nigeria immediately stabbed Russia, swarming across Europe. Russia had ruined himself, trapped in wars with both me and Nigeria on two quite distant fronts. He had no chance of survival. I briefly gloated, then decided that my own future depended on somehow recreating an alliance. Obviously Nigeria would not stop at killing Russia – I would be next. So Russia and I warily agreed to cooperate once again. And we did so rather cleverly (so I say, immodestly). We pretended to still be at war, seething with mutual recriminations. In fact, we coordinated our orders so that I destroyed Russia’s units in the far east, and he could immediately rebuild then in the west, to face down Nigeria. In effect, we were teleporting Russia’s armies the entire length of Eurasia!

Of course, this charade could not last forever; my renewed cooperation with Russia became noticeable. But it worked: Russia slowed down Nigeria’s advance, at least long enough for me to recover my recent losses and begin shifting units northward. We tried to work out a stalemate line around the Urals, and might have had a chance. But then Russia began to NMR – and dropped out of the game. By the time a new player (GhostEcho) had taken over for Russia, the NMRs had left his western border indefensible, and even with my help there was simply no chance of his survival. Nigeria was coming east.

Meanwhile, in a land far, far away, Indonesia was undergoing endless revolutions. It went like this: a new player would take over for Indonesia. This player wouldn’t know much about the game, and Song and I would invest a lot of time to explain the situation and bring the new player into our alliance. Argentina and others would attempt to draw the new Indonesia away, and we would have to offer sweeteners to counter. Eventually we would be successful, and just starting to figure out a new strategy with our new Indonesia, when the player would start NMRing and drop out. Then the cycle would repeat. We did this again, and again.

After Russia’s betrayal, I was tired and irritated, and what time I had for the game was busy elsewhere. By our fourth Indonesia, I did not have the patience to go through the dance yet again. Instead, I informed the newest player (mambam14) that I would not be renewing our alliance. I seized several Indonesian centres for myself, and tried to recreate the naval barriers throughout the archipelago that MasterGR had invented. Meanwhile, the navies of Argentina, South Africa, California, Kenya, and even Canada began to close in. I do not enjoy naval tactics, even in the best of circumstances.

Poor mambam14. It turned out that he was perfectly competent and never quit. Had I known that, I would have happily left him in peace. But I didn’t give him a chance. Later, once I apologized and offered to begin returning territory, he readily agreed to create a new alliance. But by then it was too late. We were badly outnumbered at sea, surrounded by enemies. Indonesia was quickly reduced to its last centre, and I did everything I could to keep that from being taken. In this very long game, one of the things I regret most was attacking Indonesia. And one of the things I am most proud of is that I then ensured Indonesia survived almost as long as I did.

Whatever my regrets, invading Indonesia brought me gains, and ultimately to the height of my position in this game. Despite Russia’s stab, I continued to grow. There was then a lull, a calm before the full force of Nigeria hit. The war in India ground on. Canada continued to skulk in the northeast. Argentina and South Africa began to pry open the Indonesian archipelago. And yet I had more centres than almost anyone else. For just a moment, I was seemingly doing quite well. But even I knew that it was already over.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby Imperatrix » 11 Mar 2013, 12:29

stalin813 wrote:2) I completely underestimated the long term alliance structure of this game. I wonder if Song was really honest in his 2001 offer of peace and if I had taken it instead of Sichuan's how this game would have played out differently for me.


Had it been clear that you had allied with Song, I might have tried to ally with Sichuan against Song. At first, I was just playing balance-of-power in China. I have no idea what the long-term consequences would have been if things had worked out that way... Probably better for you and worse for me!

stalin813 wrote: I worked really really hard to get Thailand to stab Song and I thought for a moment it had worked, I really wasn't planning to continue down the coast. I had sights set inland, but I was unaware how close those two had come in destroying Sichuan. Bad luck.


I was definitely open-minded at the beginning; I didn't commit myself firmly to Song until around Sichuan's demise. Actually, the worst thing for you was that Sichuan was demanding in negotiations with me and made clear that he was firmly tied to you. In contrast, Song was very accommodating - and also constantly worried about you. Acting on little information, I think I allowed their impressions of you to inform my own.
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Re: World War IV: AAR's

Postby thewysecat » 12 Mar 2013, 01:32

Imperatrix wrote: But I couldn’t do it. Song was a good ally. He had earned the right not to be treated that way. He’d been accommodating and reasonable, given helpful advice, and generally been enjoyable to talk to. I could not bring myself to stab him. He did not deserve it – and in my book, deserve does have something to do with it.

I can verify that Imperatrix's book certainly does say this, but of course we disagree - deserve is meaningless. Or rather put it another way if stabbing Song would have genuinely created a narrative that increased Thailand's chances of a solo then he most certainly deserved to be stabbed. Cheesers was an excellent ally whose correspondence I enjoyed very much. He 'deserved' to be stabbed. One's VC should be one's alpha and omega.

Imperatrix wrote: I’ll pause the narrative here for a moment of analysis. For me, this game was utterly plagued by allies dropping out. Japan did it, India did it, Russia (much later) did it. And no less than three different Indonesian players did it. As I’m sure all will appreciate, it is extraordinarily difficult to play this sort of massive game when long-term allies suddenly disappear. Months of work on diplomacy and planning can be wasted. And when players repeatedly drop from one country, as happened in Indonesia (and the UK) it just becomes impossible to take one’s own choices very seriously. There is no logic or fun to predicting the moves of a country likely to be controlled by a wholly different person in one or two turns. I don’t think it is too impertinent to point out that all those who made it to the end of this game had primary allies who never quit.

I think this is fair comment. I will take that point in a slightly different direction though. Given what I called tests #1 & #2 of this variant how much progress would have been made at all without NMRs and drop outs given that so few alliance re-alignments occured?

What really was achieved by any of us survivors?

Who did DOI defeat? Quebec NMRed from the start practically and peaked at 4 SCs

Who did AA defeat? Texas never grew past 6 SCs. Illinois reached 10 at least but was dogpiled by 3 neighbours. Mexico and US had 12 each before also being dopiled by 3 neighbours - likewise both the latter suffered from NMRs and changes of leadership

Who did Girion & Asudevil defeat? Brazil peaked at 4 and was led by poor Ninjaruler. Inca chronically NMRed before dropping out and never passed 7. Columbia made it to 10 at least. Oceania was vassaled at 6 before being taken out. Australia was stuck at 6 too. Indonesia was viable at 16 but was another undone by NMRs and successive changes of leadership

Who did Paulus and I defeat? Congo and Egypt got to 6 and 4 respectively. UK, Catholica were both fatally wounded by NMR and drop out. Iran got to 9 and there was more elegance to how Persia was conquered. Likewise India who peaked at 13 - both of those conquests I would argue at least involved skill in exploiting the stabs of others on those powers. Germany was a tough nut to crack at 12 too and never NMRed - credit to both sides of that war perhaps. Russia was a big power at 23, but NMRed dropped out as his defeat became clear. Thailand at 26 was the big scalp of the game and a challenging campaign in India, the North and China. South Africa at 19 or so, however, was again just the result of NMR and multiple leadership changes after drop out.

Once we got to what I considered the mid-game of 2117 - 2120 or there abouts I hoped we'd got past the elimination of the small, the unreliable and the less competent and might play a game with 12 or so players on a grand 25+ SC each sort of scale, but that change of gear simply never happened. Overall I think that leaves a meagre collective haul of tactical and diplomatic coups to reflect on and think "wow, what a game!"
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