PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

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PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 22 Nov 2016, 18:33

These are the rules around Separating Games From The Forum.

Rule 11 would seem to be a sticking point regarding any discussion about PDES Gold while it is ongoing. However, we did have an active forum thread discussing PDEC Gold while it was still active. So, I think there is some precedence for leniency to the rule for special games. Further, as a player in PDEC Gold, I did not mind the thread nor think it influenced play. In fact, I felt a lively discussion was a good thing for the site.

Therefore, I would like to use this thread to discuss PDES Gold while it is still active, with the caveat that discussion is limited to two years behind current game state. That is, when the game enters Spring 1903, everything in 1901 can be discussed including Winter Adjustments, nothing in 1902 can be discussed until Spring 1904.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Machiara » 22 Nov 2016, 20:50

Man, those players have some . . . creative tactics.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 22 Nov 2016, 21:17

Spring 1901: In Review
All games must start with the opening. Some can be dull rote affairs and some can be quite lively. This game started with a mixture of both.

In the West, we saw a staid set of openings from EFG:
  • The English Northern Yorkshire Opening (NWG-Yor-NTH) is one of the most popular English openings. A conservative and flexible opening that offers better protection from a French stab than the equally popular Churchill Opening and provides options for an army in either the Lowlands or Scandinavia (with additional protection against a Russian northern opening).
  • The German Holland Opening: Burgundy Variation (Hol-Kie-Bur) is a less common opening, but perfectly reasonable. The Anschluss Opening lines (Kie - Den) have been dominant in recent years, but Holland Openings seem to have had a bit of resurgence in the past few months. It is a very Russian friendly move that gives up significant bargaining power in the north for more influence on the lowlands.
  • Of the three Western powers, I feel France has the most flexibility of options that can be influenced by diplomatic correspondence. The Vineyard Opening's (MAO-(Par-Gas)-Bur) popularity waxes and wanes, seldom at the top, but is never entirely forgotten. Without Mar-Spa, MAO can only take Por and all interest/influence on Bel has been lost. To me, it is an opening the feels somewhat limiting and conservative, but provides more defensive options against multiple opening attacks.

In the East, we saw more dynamic play from ART:
  • The Austrian Warthog Opening (Alb-Gal-Rum) was an exciting departure from the common Balkan Gambit (Bud - Ser) variations. A clearly anti-Russian set of moves that necessitated sharp negotiations with Italy, Turkey, and a likely Gal DMZ stab. Negotiations with Turkey should/would have included Con Hold and Smy - Arm, but either Turkey reneged or was too conservative to agree to it. This lack was offset, however, by the Russian decision to have a northern opening. A major downside to this opening is that it doesn't guarantee Ser or provide as much influence on Gre as the Balkan Gambit.
  • The Russian Northern Opening: RAT Variation[1] (GOB-StP-Ukr-Rum) is a lesser used opening that expresses confidence in negotiations. Russia's strength in the late game is having StP, giving it the ability to prevent many stalemate positions. Once lost, StP is nearly impossible to regain. So, I am very much a proponent of northern openings. However, this variation/line would seem predicated on DMZs for both Gal and BLA. I feel this is a bit naive, as losing both in the opening is typically disastrous. A bounce in Gal, BLA, or both is a much safer choice when heading north.
  • The Turk was the most conservative of the three, employing the most popular standard Turkish Opening (BLA-Bul-Con). However, the success of Ank - BLA is a bit unusual as this is traditionally a negotiated bounce. Was this a DMZ stab or a negotiated acquiescence by Russia. In either case, this has created a more dynamic situation in the East.

Italy was also a bit traditional with the standard Lepanto Opening (Ven H-Apu-ION). While I prefer a more assertive Italy moving to Tyr or Pie, a wait and see approach is often safer for this less favored power. Italy has had some astonishing successes recently, including many strong games at the WDC in Chicago and a co-boardtop draw in PDEC Gold.

Fitting it all together, Russia appears to have the worst of it out of the gate. It appears they will not gain Rum in 1901 and could disastrously lose War. Things could get bleaker in 1902. They fortunately are guaranteed Swe, which prevents a total disaster and an opportunity to build south. Speaking of Sweden, its neighbors in Nwy and Den look quite interesting. Will they be settled peaceably or will one or both be unclaimed come Winter?

The Austrian situation is really exciting. Good decisions and negotiations could give it six centers in Winter, but bad ones could leave it with only Ven and Bud. A more probable scenario is reverting to a conservative Bud - Ser and five centers. However, a continued pressing play on Russia would be for BLA and Gal to support Bud - Rum offering Turkey Ser and Bul.

---
  1. This variation is more traditionally called the Ukraine as opposed to the Squid (Bla), but RAT is more descriptive of Russian attitude.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Machiara » 22 Nov 2016, 22:14

I have to agree with your incredulity regarding the Russian opening. He has to be VERY confident in his diplomacy to open to Rumania and Ukraine. It seems to me that a Russian opening north needs to bounce in Gal and Bla. Otherwise you are inviting disaster. Russia is really fortunate that Germany opened to Holland, because if Germany was in Kiel things would look bleak indeed. So points for Russian diplomatic skill there.

Austria's opening makes it clear that the Austrian is confident in his relationship with the Turk. Apparently the Turk has convinced both Russia AND Austria that he is a friend. Whose friend is he really? I guess we'll see. But Russia's weak opening makes the Condiment Alliance a much more attractive option for the Turk at this point, I would think. Austria's opening puts the Turk in a great position for two centers in 1901, a not-inconsiderable feat.

England has to be feeling good about his opening at this point, since France is clearly heading for Iberia. That said, Russia opening north and Germany moving to Holland makes things a little dicier than they might be otherwise. If Germany HAD moved Kiel, England could have been in line for a two-center pickup.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 22 Nov 2016, 22:30

Will post Fall 1901 review in about 24 hours.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 23 Nov 2016, 04:11

I notice in the Shoutbox that Germany claims the Holland Opening was an error. I have made that error recently in F2F, which is a very reasonable and easy mental mistake. However, doing it online seems less likely. If an error, it would have to be a mental flub rather than a misclick. Note this one as a question for Germany in their AAR.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 23 Nov 2016, 19:04

Fall 1901: In Review
The followup to the openings was mostly as expected. Solid play that is a fine balance of pragmatic tactics and flexibility of direction.

  • France's start was conservative. The followup was brilliant. I was genuinely surprised that the second part of the Vineyard Opening was followed; I was expecting a typical MAO - Por, even from highly rated players. So, kudos to France for a well played position that provides a tremendous amount of flexibility to go north or south, if not so much due east...hmmm...
  • England's orders to force Nwy was mostly required. With negotiation, they might have been able to land unsupported and gain either Den or one of the Lowlands. This has left England with a sub-optimal, but frequently achieved four center start. A four center start can sometimes allow England to fly under the radar a bit. But, in this situation, I would be concerned that the inability to negotiate for another build points to belligerent neighbors and bodes ill for their future.
  • In the East, Germany had some options. Deciding to have some say in the North, they opted for Den. The move to Bel held little surprise; providing England did not make a play for it, it provides more choices than Hol and more negotiating power. Ruh was likely all about the future...
  • In my mind, Russia's play to Fin was again a bit unusual. Did Austria and Turkey lull them into a false sense of security with their negotiations or did they decide to give up the South for a stranglehold on Scandinavia? This move seems to demand a build of F StP(nc). They made the right call with the move to War, was it negotiated?
  • The Austro-Turkish alliance, at least temporarily, is in play. It is hard for this alliance to work long-term, but any alliance can work with effort. The move to Ser and followup into Bul was not surprising. I was mildly surprised with the play to War. Guaranteeing Rum with Gal, supposing a supported Russian move there would be a bit safer. Likewise, having the Russian in War rather than Ukr is tactically better.
  • However, playing Austria is maybe more difficult than Italy. You are always walking a Tightrope[1]. If anticipating Ukr - War, Gal - Ukr would have provided a lot of tactical options. But, it also limits choices diplomatically. It likely forces a build in Mos, probably will be one there anyways, but you can always hope for negotiation to StP. It also gets you stuck in Russia and makes it harder to change sides and work with them against Turkey or go RAT. On the whole, the negotiation and moves by Austria strikes a nice balance of tactical strength and flexibility.
  • Turkey seems to have gotten the better of the deal with Austria. Part of the typical negotiation is for Turkey to move Smy - Arm. The current situation gives Turkey more flexibility on partners and targets. Will Turkey turn on Austria so quickly?
  • While the standard Lepanto convoy to Tunis was made, Italy showed some flair by going to Tyr. I like it. Clearly a Francophile, is Tyr anti-German, anti-Austrian, or something else altogether??? Did the Audacious Austrian play startle Italy out of their wait and see approach??? The convoy says EME, but without Austrian support what happens instead??? Only time will tell...

MAO, Bel, Fin, and Ruh tell a story of possible Anlgocide. Does the pressure to Russia in the South have them pull out? Can England negotiate their way to a better place or is this all just a WT feint?

Russia seemingly has cut off options, can he negotiate a rabbit out of a hat?

---
Last edited by Carebear on 06 Dec 2016, 06:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 24 Nov 2016, 22:00

Winter Adjustments review will be out soon.

But, Italy we want to see more flair: ;)

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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 24 Nov 2016, 22:11

Machiara wrote:England has to be feeling good about his opening at this point, since France is clearly heading for Iberia. That said, Russia opening north and Germany moving to Holland makes things a little dicier than they might be otherwise. If Germany HAD moved Kiel, England could have been in line for a two-center pickup.

I should have responded earlier; my bad.

Germany moving to Kie as the only change in Spring 1901 would not have guaranteed England a two-center pickup. In my estimation, probably not. The North opening by Russia puts England in a tough situation. With the Lowlands completely open in this scenario, convoying the army to Bel makes more sense. With a guaranteed unsupported move by England to Nwy, a belligerent Russia likely makes that bounce [Edit: But again, not necessarily. Allowing a landed fleet and a North build ensures a 3v1 or 3v2 against England in the Spring. I have done this before myself. I was a bit one-sided there.]. That is all upon the negotiations and it seems Russia and Germany may be tight-ish...
Last edited by Carebear on 25 Nov 2016, 00:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PDES Gold: A Belated Discussion in the Stands

Postby Carebear » 24 Nov 2016, 23:32

Winter 1901: In Review
Well, there were some mighty interesting build choices!

Starting with the most straight foward:
  • The choice of German builds seems almost required. Foreign unit near Mun, build Mun. Three English fleets, build second fleet Kie to make it 4-3 (with France). The second fleet provides options for a piece of Britain, Scandinavia or a stab on France down the road. Building a Fourth army at this point would be more limiting.
  • The English build in Lon is pretty standard. If they were seriously concerned about France, one option would be to build in Lpl to allow some defensive tactics, like IRI, Eng/Lon, and Edi v/c, a solid position. However, Lon is more flexible overall, even if a bit more exposed. Based on the board, I think France is telling England porkies.
  • As predicted by the moves in Fall, Russia built F StP(nc). The good thing about this build is that it guarantees a build (with solid negotiation with Germany) The second fleet also projects interest in Britain proper and will make Russia more useful as a potential partner with Germany or France against the other. The obvious downside is that they may have sold the South, unless they were able to turn Turkey or Austria against the other. Selling Sev is not necessarily a losing situation. I have board topped before as Russia without Sev, but it is a bit unusual and I cannot recall ever soloing or seeing a solo by Russia without Sev.
  • The Italian build F Nap points again to flexibility, defensive strength, and offering fleet assistance to anybody willing to work with them. A nice cagey decision. A build of A Ven is just too limiting IMO.

The more interesting:
  • I struggled a bit deciding whether to place the Austrian builds on the straight forward list or the interesting list. With the Austro-Turkish alliance, Austria building armies and Turkey building some fleets to go around is a viable option. It allows Austria to pressure the middle to help gain Russia or cross the common stalemate line in Germany. It is the same distance from Tri and Smy/Con to ION. It is however interesting that neither of the builds were in Tri, especially with an Italian army in Tyr. To be a fly on the wall for those negotiations between Austria and Italy. My guess is that Italy will go West, but my guess is it will only be half-hearted.
  • The French build of F Bre follows my belief of imminent Anglocide. The build A Mar though tells a stranger story to me. I think it is a disguise. A true southern play would have been F Mar. Build A Par would be better tactically for Bre - Eng. It could move straight to Pic for a convoy to Wal. Even moving against Germany, building A Par allows a bounce in Bur or forcing of German support into Bur and enabling Spa - Mar without a potential bounce. This says to me that France is very sure of his German ally. With Italy moving Tyr, there seems to me no valid reason for A Mar. This seems to support my Porkie Pie theory.
  • Finally, we have Turkey. With himself situated in the Balkans, this double fleet build says to me cessation of hostilities with Russia and we will soon see a Juggernaut or RAT. However, if a Juggernaut, I might have gone with another army instead of two fleets. So, if Russia is thinking Juggernaut, then Turkey Wormtongue has been whispering in his ear. I could see a RAT, but Sev is a ripe apple waiting to be picked. To me, this feels like an overly complicated misdirect. Bluntly build A Ank. But, not knowing the entire picture of negotiations with all of the other countries, maybe this westward feint was necessary.

All in all, I feel there is a lot of disguising of intent with this set of builds.

Thoughts so far
  • [Edit: I removed original text as I feel at this point it could still impact current game state. Will set it aside for later discussion.]
  • What the heck is Turkey going to do with his pieces!?
  • France and Austria seem to be taking this game by the horns. France is always my favorite country to play, as I feel they have the best positional start in the game. But, it still takes skill to play it well.
  • Italy has dipped his toe in the water with Tyr, but is still showing a great cagey start. Look to see more there.
  • Germany from a board perspective has been relatively neutral. Nothing flashy, but no blunders either. This can often foreshadow a later surge. They needs to get some flair from Italy. ;)
  • Turkey honestly has me flummoxed. It will be interesting to learn in the AAR who was more of the leader at this point in the Austro-Turkish alliance (note this for later).
  • England has made traditional plays so far, but it feels like the weight of the board is against them. Sometimes there is no chance, your neighbors have decided from the start that you are the target, sometimes it is a sign that your diplomacy was not up to snuff. It will be interesting to hear this discussion in the AAR.
  • I am still of the mind that the Russia opening was a blunder, maybe inexperience or over confidence. However, they made a tough, but solid, decision to keep themselves viable and could easily still solo or boardtop.
Last edited by Carebear on 04 Dec 2016, 04:25, edited 1 time in total.
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