Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4

2-player tournament using a modified version of the published 2-player rules. TD: rick.leeds. WINNER: thewysecat

Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4

Postby thewysecat » 29 May 2012, 00:58

42027. FOC Final Game F3

Prufrock (EFR) defeats thewysecat (AGT)


From my point of view, this is a sorry tale of what might have been. To speak to the match-play dimension again - some of this defeat is a legacy of my mauling in F1. I show glimpses of my precise priority-triaging play, but ultimately too much passivity blunts any chance I had to tap into AGT’s strengths and consequently this game is actually my biggest regret. I again fail to show what AGT can do.

(And I am deliberately being somewhat vague about the nature of the tactical triaging essentials of AGT – or indeed EFR - play as some of my thought I wish to keep to myself. For the intelligent reader, I drop more than enough hints in these AARs anyway)

It starts with my opening: A Ber to Sil, F Kiel to Den but A Mun to Bur (not Ruhr). I hate this opening and that I played it. It guarantees the concession of Hol to England which is a tempo loss that AGT cannot afford. Prufrock goes with a Northern Russian opening which I do not rate at all, so that I play an underpowered German response is even more annoying. In Fall 01 for the second time as AGT I get the crucial Scandinavian naval 50:50 wrong and so I am in trouble again.

My first sign of life appears in the next phase – I build F Berlin. This is sound play. (Something Prufrock repeats in F6)

Winter 01 resolution

F3 Winter01.jpg

Then I make my first ‘mistake’. My plan when I build is to move Ber to Bal, but instead I use the fleet like an army to support myself to Prussia fearing a bounce chain being caused by War to Pru. I figured that Prufrock would not prioritise taking Sweden in the Spring. I was wrong. This is a disaster since the fleet build was designed to make holding Sweden in 1902 a real possibility. I might disband the unit in the Winter but it would keep my German SC count at plus one. This error is likely fatal, but I have one last shot at redemption in the Fall.

In Fall 02, more evidence of higher thinking (at last). I choose not to defend Munich but risk it since defending it means losing tempo that only leads to defeat anyway. It works. I take Bal – more clear headedness. This is vital to the effort to hold Berlin long-term. I take War. Cover Silesia. All of this is more evidence of astuteness. And I move Sev to….Ukraine. Damn. I had Sev to Mos entered, but changed it as too risky. This is my last and fatal ‘little’ mistake. AGT is a beauty, but a fragile one and it cannot survive this many errors – concede Hol in Spring 01, miss naval German bounce in Fall01, fail to use F Ber properly in Spring02, and now this.

At that point, the only chance I had to hold on was to go ‘all-in’ and I didn’t. That is a failure to exhibit the sort of courage that is essential to AGT play at the elite level. I just could not see Mos doing anything other than moving to Ukr. I still cannot see why Prufrock moved to Liv. If he was expecting a War retreat he could use that retreat to occupy Liv so why move Mos to Liv? Anyway, he makes a sub-optimum play at a key point and I miss it. Damn. War gets to retreat to Mos and therefore Russia does not have to disband a unit.

Winter 02 resolution

F3 Winter02.jpg

This may look a relatively solid AGT position, but those who know the dynamics of this board will spot that this is a lost position for AGT. Metaphorically EFR can step on AGT’s wrist and force his fingers to let go of Berlin and Munich. Had the unit in Ukr been in Mos. The Russian Mos unit would have been auto-destroyed and there would still have been hope of holding Berlin for the 17-17 tie.

The only other innovation of note is two Turkish builds in 1901 yield fleets in Con and Smy and enables a neat 1902 idea. The Austrian fleet can move to ION in Spring 02 and in Fall 02 can be used to bounce in Tun or TYS to taste while the Turkish fleets dislodge it from ION. ION is thus still secure, but the Austrian fleet can retreat to TYS or Tun (depending on EGR naval deployment) or do what I do here out of necessity – destroy to yield an army build. This is again an idea Prufrock utilises in F6. I’d be interested to hear his perspective but I wonder if it is an idea he borrows from me.
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Last edited by thewysecat on 29 May 2012, 01:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4

Postby thewysecat » 29 May 2012, 00:58

42026. FOC Final Game F3 (F4)

thewysecat (EFR) defeats Prufrock (AGT)


Part I
So a cut and paste error in set-up means this was called F3, but I am going to label it F4. Once again, while playing this it seemed clear early on that I needed to win to keep my hopes alive.

This is our most wild and unconventional game and so merits a lot more diagrams. Prufrock gets ‘credit’ for this since he is again responsible for a new opening theory. I think he successfully proves that AGT can just about cope with letting the southern Russian fleet loose. He is unable to prove that it is worth it by holding on to Tunis long-term. There are other factors needed for that which I will not discuss here.

Spring 01 resolution

F4 Spring01.jpg

As you can see, Prufrock allows Sev to Bla to resolve

Fall 01 resolution

F4 Fall01.jpg

This leads to this Fall 01 position. I have Bla to Con entered but change it as I could not believe Prufrock would be that reckless. He was; and I miss out. I again get the Scandinavian Fleet 50:50 wrong. Prufrock eschews Gre for the tempo gain of taking ION. His whole strategy is about taking and holding Tunis. I take the opportunity to seize Gal and this leaves the Austrian homeland vulnerable. He builds F Tri anyway (!)

Spring 02 resolution

F4 Spring02.jpg

I again feint and drive for German home soil via Pru and Boh. I think this clever, but Gal to anywhere would have worked since – to my amazement – Prufrock seeks to dislodge Gal leaving open a retreat to Bud if I’d hung around. I don’t expect North to Hel to succeed but playing it guarantees that if it doesn’t work I take Bal and Swe.
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Re: Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4

Postby thewysecat » 29 May 2012, 00:58

F4 - Part II

Fall 02 resolution

F4 Fall02.jpg

You’ll note how thin EFR is looking around an Austrian held Tunis at this point. I conclude correctly that in such circumstances France needs to take Portugal for the build in Marseilles. Austria has to concede Tyrol. This is a huge downside to his strategy. I play it patient and conservative around Germany knowing that if I have to I can disband F Ank. I am confident Mun and Ber will fall.

Spring 03 resolution

F4 Spring03.jpg

Prufrock again innovates by retaining his German fleet and heading for St.P. I initially underestimate the merit in this. I think he misses a trick by not going for North Africa though.

Fall 03 resolution

F4 Fall03.jpg

Berlin and Munich are secured and now it is all about Tunis. I have a Russian disband and I underestimate that German fleet by disbanding F Bal. I have missed a trick as Prufrock shows me in Spring 04.
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Re: Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4

Postby thewysecat » 29 May 2012, 00:58

F4 - Part III

Spring 04 resolution

F4 Spring04.jpg

The German fleet escapes to Livonia (!) and now I am feeling rather embarrassed by North to Eng Channel. I contemplate moving it back, but ego dictates I must avoid that. I am out in front of the Mun- Ber line which looks fun but is generally ill-advised and so I am being discomforted in central Europe too, but aware of the terrain and its dangers I am at least playing competently there.

I also break into Venice. I shan’t go into the details. I leave it to the reader to work out the tactical inter-connectedness, but this is about creating the pressure that will regain Tunis.

This was a lazy phase and Prufrock brings me back to focus. I think deeply and come up with the play that finally wins it.

Fall 04 resolution

F4 Fall04.jpg

Mar has to return to Bur, but Channel can carry on to MAO. I take Tus with a fleet and auto-disband a Turkish navy. The German navy must finally quit the field in the Winter.

Prufrock resigns at this point since to retain Tun he must lose TYS which itself means Tunis must fall the phase after that. So either way, this is a ‘forced’ loss for AGT. Note that the Russian fleet lives on in Rumania. Greece is also still neutral.

An interesting game, and a testing one since it produced some unfamiliar problems. So, after four games it is two games each and to my disappointment four EFR victories.

Thanks for reading. I hope they inform your future play (just not against me!). If anyone has questions or comments for me in these AARs - please refer to the specific game and phase. It will help me respond accurately. I hope Prufrock will contribute his perspective also

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Re: Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4

Postby thewysecat » 21 Jun 2012, 09:48

Prufrock can no longer access this forum so:

Or see:
viewtopic.php?f=52&t=29822

Prufrock wrote:To those who missed this, the Face-Off Challenge was a tournament featuring the 2-player variant. After six games in the finals round, thewysecat bested me as both England/France/Russia (EFR) and Austria/Germany/Turkey (AGT) to claim the FOC title. thewysecat has already published his AARs in the FOC forum, but I have been slower. So slow, in fact, that my Premium membership has lapsed and I can no longer post my AARs in the FOC forum, so I am posting them here.

I encourage anybody who is interested to read thewysecat's FOC AARs as well, since they're well-constructed and provide insight into Diplomacy strategy / analysis in general, and the two player variant in particular. The first two game AARs to which both thewysecat and I contribute are located here:

Final Games AAR - Games F1 & F2.

thewysecat's AAR for games F3 and F4 are here: Final Games AAR - Games F3 & F4.

What follows is my AAR for F3 -- I hope others find it interesting, and I look forward to reading any feedback you may have to offer.

42027. Face-off Challege Final Game F3 AAR
To begin, it might be helpful to consider the necessary final board state for an EFR/AGT victory. For EFR to win, Tunis needs to be held (should be easy), Munich and Berlin need to be secured (really that's the crux of this variant), and that's about as deep as you need to think about it.

For AGT to win, you need all of Italy, Austria, the Balkans, Turkey, Russia minus St. Pete, Munich and Berlin. To ensure the last of these be held, you need to secure units in the following positions before EFR can punch his way in:

A Mos, A War, U Liv, U Pru, U Ber, A Mun, A Boh, A Sil, A Tyr.

Thus, the overall game plan is for EFR to rush to Munich, and for AGT to keep Munich safe and knock out Russia so you can get into the above position. Somewhere in here, you also must move on Italy, since if EFR can get F Tyr, U Tus, U Pie (with support) before AGT takes Naples, the best AGT can hope for is a 16-16 draw.
All openings (and play beyond the opening) must be analyzed through the lens of how well they address these goals. With that introduction, I now proceed:

Spring 1901: The main novelty of this opening for EFR is Mos – St.P, paving the way for St.P – Nor (giving Russia a likely build), allowing London to head south immediately. The downsides are that it's too slow (an army in Nor. isn't much help, and the army you build in Mos. is still a full year away from the action), and can be easily exploited if AGT knows this is your open (specifically, War is left vulnerable). In the overall balance, this is a weak opening not to be recommended. The biggest problem is that it's slow (to borrow chess terminology as Wyse seems fond of doing, this opening loses tempo). I knew this from playing it previously, but in a fit of forgetfulness I gave it a shot again, expecting that Wyse would play something like what he did after F1.

Fall 1901: This is essentially the only logical play after Spring 1901. AGT's Spr. 01 moves meant Hol was guaranteed to succeed. GoB – Bal is pretty typical, and as I've mentioned elsewhere can be played quite frequently, spiced up with the occasional move on Sweden to keep AGT honest. Of particular interest is AGT's play of Mun – Bur, which is an effective way to slow the assault on Mun. EFR has no response beyond waiting until 1902 to force it.

Winter 1901: The only question here is whether the build in Brest should be an army or a fleet – it takes one year to get Brest to Bel by land, which feels awfully slow. Another option is to convoy the army to N. Afr (which seems sort of pointless), or to just build a fleet to dominate the Med.

Spring 1902: Let's begin by considering what I expect AGT to do (which is a pretty good starting point each turn in these face-off games). Mun must choose whether it will move to Bur, Ruh, or Hol. Thus, Bel – Ruh or Par – Bur is guaranteed to succeed. The fact that AGT built F Ber leads me to expect it will be used in a supported attack on Bal, so I have every reason to believe two of Par-Bur, Bel-Ruh, and Hol-Kie will succeed. It's also possible the Berlin build is also intended to throw me off, while planning a move to Kie or Pru instead – Wyse is clever enough to recognize the importance of disguising one's play, and devious enough to use my expectations against me.

Vie – Boh and Tri – Tyr are all but assured, as are AGT's fleet movements. It gets more complicated with the remaining units. Some valid possibilities include:

-The moves played;
-Sil S Gal – War (or Gal S Sil – War), Sev – Mos, Rum – {Ukr or Gal};
-Ber – Pru, Sil S Gal – War, Sev – Mos, Rum – Ukr, Swe – Bal.
-It doesn't particularly matter where Ser moves.

Par – Bur, Bel – Ruh, and Hol – Kie are self-explanatory based on what I outlined above. Nor – Swe is a given, ensuring that the only way to lose the Baltic is if Wyse plays Ber S Swe – Bal. I doubt it will work, since Ber – Bal (which I mostly expect) gives AGT a 50/50 to hold onto Swe. Bal S Nor – Swe is basically a throwaway, since there's not much else for the fleet to do. I don't want to play Bal – Kie, since the "success" of that move just leaves me awkwardly uncoordinated – I want an army in Kie to threaten Mun, and keeping the fleet posted in Bal. as long as possible exerts a lot of pressure on Germany. EFR's fleet movements are nearly the only choice, with the possible exception of N. Sea – Hel (I think Den, Ska, or E. Ch are defensible plays there as well, though Hel is probably best for ensuring the loss of Kie, which is quite important to the ultimate goal of finishing Germany off). Mar – Pie is better than Mar S Par – Bur, since Pie can attack Tyr or provide support to Ven. As played, the Turkish unit in Tri. is nice for EFR, since AGT requires a steady supply of Austrian armies to survive.

Warsaw can only be lost to an attack + support (which I cannot stop), in which case I can bounce to Prussia – if Prussia has been covered by Ber – Prussia, then I'll have won Sweden, Ber will be empty, and I'll remain posted in the Baltic which is great compensation, and War can then retreat to Liv. If instead the play is to reshuffle, then War – Sil leaves Germany with an empty hole somewhere (or if Mun S Gal – Sil, I have Kie and Munich is mine in the fall). I toyed also with the idea of playing War – Gal instead of Sil, but realistically didn't expect either move to get anywhere, and in the off chance one of the moves did work, a Russian army in Sil. in 1902 is preferable to a Russian army in Gal (which is also rather nice). Bre – Pic isn't great, and really just betrays the fact that I built A Bre without knowing what I wanted to do with it. Still, that army will likely be useful in 1903.

As an exercise, after each season it's worthwhile to see what the perfect play against your opponent's moves had you seen their orders (which is, of course, different than the best play versus the range of moves you expect your opponent to make). In this case, I think War – Gal, Mos – War would have been the perfect play vs. the actual moves (but it's complicated), but the actual outcome was still quite good. Mos S War – Ukr would have also been a good alternative.

Spring 1902 Retreat: Swe – G of Bot or Ska also are worth considering for AGT, since they give me opportunities to make more mistakes in Fall.

Fall 1902: The trickiest part of this year is Russia. I need, at the very least, to keep an army in Livonia, since there is no way Warsaw will remain under Russian control. I expected AGT would do something like:

Boh S Tyr – Mun, Mun – Sil, Tri – Tyr, Ber S Den – Bal, Sev S Ukr- Mos (or vice versa), Gal S Pru – War (or vice versa).

Apparently I never fully appreciated how much emphasis thewysecat would place on tempo and having well-placed units, even it if leaves me with a few extra ones on the board. Based on that, War – Sil was intended to keep Sil free again, while hopefully disbanding the German unit in Munich. Mos – Liv was to secure Liv to give me a foothold to use to cut Prussian support in a future year, while leaving War free to bounce somewhere else after it was dislodged. Obviously I was completely wrong about AGT's action, but it turned out quite favorably for me (phew).

Regarding play with my western units in their attack on Germany, I had two choices, both of which were close to even in my mind. I chose the one I played (Ruh & Hel & Bal S Hol – Kie; Bur – Mun) because it had the biggest upside if things went as bad as possible. One could argue that AGT understood this and chose accordingly (so his choice to not defend Munich was a combination of logic and inspiration), but it still gave me a 1903 where he was still several more correct "guesses" away from winning, whereas I only need to get into Munich or Berlin once.

It should be noted that the alternate choice, which was my original plan, was Hol S Hel - Kie; Bal - Ber; Bur S Ruh- Mun; Bel – Ruh. Had this been played instead, EFR would have won. Another of many occasions where talking myself out of my instinctive plays cost me.

Winter 1902: AGT's disband of Ionian was a clever way to add another army to the mainland – I certainly hadn't expected it, though it makes a lot of sense. The downside is it opens the door for EFR to keep AGT from finishing off Italy (see the position at the end of Spr. 1904 – Naples and Rome will forever remain in civil disorder flying Italian flags). Regarding the fleet positioning in/around the Ionian in 1902, Wyse remarked:
thewysecat wrote:This is again an idea Prufrock utilises in F6. I’d be interested to hear his perspective but I wonder if it is an idea he borrows from me.

This is an idea I had used previously in the semi-finals game against Morg (41291. FOC Semi-Final Game SF1b again). I expect others used it earlier as well, since it takes good advantage of the ability to self-dislodge in order to keep a territory free of units while bouncing to wherever you choose afterward, and also aligns with AGT's desire to dominate the Mediterranean.

From the position at the end of 1902, the game is all but won for EFR. Since Livonia is securely held by Russia, AGT will have to repeatedly correctly choose how to defend Mun / Ber while EFR can vary attacks at random with near impunity, as long as I'm careful not to lose Livonia. In particular, I can attack Munich with everything n times in a row, forcing Sil S Mun (or I gain Munich and win), then on turn n+1 play Liv – Pru, Bal S Kie – Ber, Bur – Mun. It's possible Wyse will time it just right, but we have until 1920 for the game to end, and if he jumps the gun at all EFR wins.

Beyond this point I'm not sure how much more need be said. I take Ber in Spring 1903 (I can only guess wrong so many times), and that seals it.


An afterthought, and why I sometimes choose to guess: Looking over these games, it looks like I have a pathological tendency not to attack Munich when I'm sure it will be defended (and I'm sure because it has to be – if it falls I win). thewysecat also has a tendency to leave Mun undefended far more often than I would have expected. Whether it's because he picked up on my tendency, or he's just thinking one step ahead of me but along the same lines I do not know.

When I'm planning my moves, there are often "attack A or B" decisions to make, where only one can be defended. I like to think to myself that I will out-think my opponent and make the "right" choice more often than not. If my opponent isn't thinking about my moves, this may be the case. But if s/he is, then it may well be the case that I am the one being exploited and getting out-thought.

In the case of the current opponent, I don't know if I have an edge on thewysecat in these regards. I know he is a strong, capable, thinking player and after playing six games against him I'd say he probably has the edge on me – he will probably anticipate my moves correctly more frequently than I will his (though hopefully that frequency is just slightly greater than the opposite :)). To protect myself from being exploited in these true 50/50 decisions, then, I will sometimes flip a coin and force him to be stuck without an edge for that move.

This is something of a game theoretic point, and it's not a position to strive to be in (one is better off being able to exploit one's opponent's tendencies), but in a situation where I am either uncertain or think I may be the one being exploited, I make some of the A or B choices truly random, because it is impossible to outthink a coin.

In hindsight, I chose not to attack Munich much more frequently than I think is wise throughout this series, and that is something that could be/was exploited. Of course, now that I know that and have analyzed Wyse's play more, I can take those tendencies into consideration in the future (i.e.,moving beyond just "I think that he will do x" into "I think that he thinks that I will do y, so that means he will do z and therefore I should counter with …"). But along with such heavily layered reasoning, part of making myself harder to read in borderline/close decisions, may simply be to add a randomizing element to decide between two options that I believe are nearly equivalent in their ability to achieve my strategic goals.
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