AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1902

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AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1902

Postby Aurelia1 » 07 Feb 2019, 22:08

To say this game was intense would be an understatement. Hands-down the most communicative, interesting game I’ve played, it was my first Classicist game, and I think we can all agree it deserves an AAR.

The power assignments were:

ENGLAND: IcomeInPeaceMaybe
FRANCE: Aurelia1 (4way DRAW)
ITALY: greggybear (4way DRAW)
GERMANY: JoeHoya06
AUSTRIA: another (4way DRAW)
TURKEY: Parabellum
RUSSIA: hedge trimmer (4way DRAW)

But I’ve been thinking: It’s pretty rare that someone actually finishes writing a year-by-year account of a Diplomacy game, especially not one that took up a huge amount of time. Last month, I finished a playtest of a variant done over Discord and afterward, instead of digging back through messages and trying to write a year-by-year, which probably seems like a big task that someone might want to put off, we just started asking each other questions and discussing the game as a whole. We probably got the same anount of discussion in, the difference was that it actually got done.

So how about this: We write a relatively shorter overview of what happened from our perspective, maybe breaking it into early/middle/late game instead of going into more detail, then we start asking each other specifics.

I’ll start:

I started off being blown away by the quality of messages I was receiving. I immediately liked Italy and Germany, especially Germany’s roleplaying. While that went away as time went on, his writing skill didn’t, and throughout the game, his messages were the best. I made pretty strong connections with Italy and Russia, talking about general strategy in Diplomacy. I allied with Germany, taking a very aggressive opening (Mar-Bur, Par-Pic, Bre-ENG). I continued doing crazy stuff, taking North Sea and then convoying Germany to Yorkshire in 02. I stabbed Germany without killing England, but didn’t get anywhere since Russia didn’t join in like he said he would. I reached out to Germany about peace, but it was always meant to be plan B. I didn’t like his terms too much, anyway. So Russia, Austria, and I started working towards a three-way draw, only Italy talked me into keeping him alive. Russia stabbed me, then Austria, then started the solo run with six of the seven powers still alive. We stopped him despite a lot of infighting and headaches, then Russia let me kill off England and Germany and we drew. I would have killed off Italy too, and maybe tried to solo myself if I saw the chance, but I was (am?) going to be traveling soon, and my pause was never accepted. I knew requesting a pause would look like I expected the game to go on much longer than it should. I also didn’t think Italy would accept a pause that meant his death. I’m disappointed with my numerous mistakes, and wish I could have gotten a better result. But despite all my mistakes, I ended on ten. I guess I did something right. :)

Yes, that’s my definition of short.

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts!
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby Shyvve » 07 Feb 2019, 23:03

:o @ (Mar-Bur, Par-Pic, Bre-ENG) open, Aurelia1!

Now I've got to go check out the Orders History on this one. It sounds completely wild and fluid to say the least!
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby JoeHoya06 » 08 Feb 2019, 00:26

My short overview is that while the game is the game, the wasting of my time over the last two and a half weeks was fairly maddening. I had hoped that my efforts to patch things up between Austria and Italy would engender some respect in the final result, and if not, that I'd be wiped out and have that be that (I was on one center for like four years). Instead, my time was wasted.

To put in all that work just to have France – and even worse, Austria and Italy, who nearly gave Russia the solo with whatever the hell was going on with them – decide that my efforts and those of "Scotland" were not worth even the slightest bit of appreciation when Russia tried cutting us out leaves a rather sour taste. For a solo, I get it, but to go from a six- down to four-way draw? What the hell's the difference? It's not a tournament.

I might have more later. I might not. I don't know.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby hedge trimmer » 08 Feb 2019, 17:36

JoeHoya06, I completely understand why you're frustrated, and I'm sorry it ended like this.

BUT

I didn't think I was pushing that hard for excluding you from the draw, at least in the end, and I would've accepted the 6 way if everyone else had sincerely wanted it. I did try to get France to attack you and Scotland a few turns earlier since it didn't seem like you two would be willing to help me, but that was in order to find a weak spot in your alliance. I was also hoping that Austria and Italy would be more against removing you, as then I could've used that as a way to kickstart AIR in order to keep the game going... but that didn't happen either. Perhaps I should've tried harder to get France or Austria to ally with me once again, but it really seemed like everyone was very tired and wanted to end the game.

What you say kind of proves my suspicions that you were the one who ruined my solo run though... which sadly does make me get some twisted sort of enjoyment from being able to take you out, even if it's just to prove a point: You should make sure that whatever you do actually helps YOUR game, and stopping someone from soloing doesn't necessarily do that. Does helping me solo gain you anything? Maybe not, but does helping someone who was clearly out to get you gain you anything? I think that's worse. Maybe it was more obvious from my point of view, but France was trying very hard to get you and England eliminated throughout the game, so I never saw any way for you to actually survive while France had the power to take you out. I suppose I wasn't able to convince you to help me, so that's one mistake I regret.

So for me it was never about the rating. I got 5 points out of this game, which isn't much... I'm not sure if I would've taken a rating hit from a 6 way draw, but I doubt it would've been more than a point or two.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby hedge trimmer » 08 Feb 2019, 18:28

-Starting off, my main ally was supposed to be Italy, but I ended up supporting Austria. Italy seemed to always move in unexpected ways, and then Austria revealed that the move to Trieste had been agreed upon ("Key Lepanto"*), which made me lose any trust I had in Italy. (*Please don't just give Italy Trieste for no reason and call it a Key Lepanto, the point is to have Italy move to AEG/EAS instead of Tunis in F01 in order to better attack Turkey. Italy's third fleet didn't help anyone, so giving him an extra build was pointless).

-Everyone was very suspicious of a Juggernaut, and when Turkey left himself completely open I stabbed him. Sorry... but I think it was the right move, as otherwise I would've had to fight both Austria and Germany. If we could've kept the Juggernaut hidden, I think we would've been able to attack A/I even with their "Key Lepanto".

-At first Germany seemed to be against of me opening north or even getting Sweden, but he changed his mind very late in the turn and asked if I would join him in a Sealion. That sounded like trouble so I declined. Moving there haphazardly would just give Germany the option to deny me Sweden while I would ruin my relations with England too. Combine that with Austria bouncing me out of Rumania and I would be in a tough spot.

-France was always helping me, which was nice... but honestly all of the plans required my active support, or at least they always seemed to help me more than France, which is a TERRIBLE idea. I agree with the "help the power on the opposite side of the board" strategy, but it's actually good enough if you help them to survive, you don't have to put them in a position where they can attempt to solo. :lol:

-I tried to keep Scotland in the game, but I ended up lying a whole bunch to him in order keep my centers safe. I wouldn't have had any problems helping him to get centers from France, but he was either content with sitting on his single dot like a mother hen, or at most trying to move to a position that wouldn't help me.

-Germany shouldn't have supported France to the North Sea, I think that was his biggest mistake. You need to encourage your ally, France or England, to move south towards the Mediterranean as much as possible, so you need to make sure that the North Sea is either DMZd or German controlled. Maybe my insistence on that is why I fail as Germany, but I don't want a sword of Damocles hanging there.

End game:

-Even with all the opposition, I think my position was good enough that I could've made it if I had successfully outguessed everyone a few times (Brest/MAO back in S06 etc). I didn't.

-I hinted at Austria that someone was revealing information to me (I didn't mention any names), which apparently caused a massive amount of drama between Italy and Austria... I didn't think I did anything too bad, as France was revealing all sorts of things to me too. :lol: I didn't mean to cause any of this, as it was just an offhand comment that I would've made even if no one was feeding me any information at all. Actually, I don't think I would've done it if I had only one informant, but when half the players were telling me stuff I didn't think it was too bad to possibly compromise one of them.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby another » 08 Feb 2019, 19:55

I will write a more elaborate post later when I have time (they expected me to do work today at the office...), but just a few quick points / questions:

hedge trimmer wrote:-Starting off, my main ally was supposed to be Italy, but I ended up supporting Austria. Italy seemed to always move in unexpected ways, and then Austria revealed that the move to Trieste had been agreed upon ("Key Lepanto"*), which made me lose any trust I had in Italy. (*Please don't just give Italy Trieste for no reason and call it a Key Lepanto, the point is to have Italy move to AEG/EAS instead of Tunis in F01 in order to better attack Turkey. Italy's third fleet didn't help anyone, so giving him an extra build was pointless).


The only one who called it Key Lepanto was you :) I never called it that. It was the Trieste gambit, which I think is a very potent opening for Austria (and Italy), but I think we did it all wrong this game. More on that later.

hedge trimmer wrote:-Everyone was very suspicious of a Juggernaut, and when Turkey left himself completely open I stabbed him. Sorry... but I think it was the right move, as otherwise I would've had to fight both Austria and Germany. If we could've kept the Juggernaut hidden, I think we would've been able to attack A/I even with their "Key Lepanto".


When you say "could've kept the Juggernaut hidden" - was Juggernaut ever a plan? To me it had seemed like something that Turkey did all on his own initiative.

hedge trimmer wrote:-I hinted at Austria that someone was revealing information to me (I didn't mention any names), which apparently caused a massive amount of drama between Italy and Austria... I didn't think I did anything too bad, as France was revealing all sorts of things to me too. :lol: I didn't mean to cause any of this, as it was just an offhand comment that I would've made even if no one was feeding me any information at all. Actually, I don't think I would've done it if I had only one informant, but when half the players were telling me stuff I didn't think it was too bad to possibly compromise one of them.


Basically, everyone (France, Germany, Italy and eventually also Scotland) new what my initial moves were that turn. Then very close to the deadline I reconsidered (when I realised that there is high chance my support of Italian fleets will not have corresponding actual fleet movement, and if that is the case, you will not have to defend Con tooth & nail, so Armenia is not needed to move to Smyrna) and changed them. But then you moved like you should have moved if you had known my exact movements. But when I spoke with you - I didn't ask if anyone tipped you off, you yourself unprompted suggested that. So: who was it that tipped you off? I'm dead certain it wasn't Germany, but for a long while I thought it could have been Italy or France, or maybe Scotland. Who was it?

BTW, this was not the reason why we had our misunderstandings with Italy, it was at best just another straw with the camel's back firmly broken three times over already. More on that later, as well.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby hedge trimmer » 08 Feb 2019, 22:58

another wrote:The only one who called it Key Lepanto was you :) I never called it that. It was the Trieste gambit, which I think is a very potent opening for Austria (and Italy), but I think we did it all wrong this game. More on that later.


Turkey called it that too... But I guess you wrecked my argument. :lol:

When you say "could've kept the Juggernaut hidden" - was Juggernaut ever a plan? To me it had seemed like something that Turkey did all on his own initiative.


Of course it was. Why wouldn't it have been? I never go into a game with a plan which country I'm going to ally with, that always gets decided after I talk with everyone and see where the game is heading. The problem here was that everyone seemed to be expecting a Juggernaut. I suppose France would've been fine with it, but that would've still been a 3vs4 situation.

Basically, everyone (France, Germany, Italy and eventually also Scotland) new what my initial moves were that turn. Then very close to the deadline I reconsidered (when I realised that there is high chance my support of Italian fleets will not have corresponding actual fleet movement, and if that is the case, you will not have to defend Con tooth & nail, so Armenia is not needed to move to Smyrna) and changed them. But then you moved like you should have moved if you had known my exact movements. But when I spoke with you - I didn't ask if anyone tipped you off, you yourself unprompted suggested that. So: who was it that tipped you off? I'm dead certain it wasn't Germany, but for a long while I thought it could have been Italy or France, or maybe Scotland. Who was it?


Come on, you drilled me pretty hard, and it was obvious you knew that I wouldn't have moved like that without someone telling me your moves. I guess I could've ignored you, but it's not fair to make it seem like I told you about it right out of the gate. I gave you several reasons why I moved the way I did before I told you that, but for some reason you didn't believe me when I told you that you outplayed me etc. and you kept asking me why.

Apparently Italy already admitted to it? I think it was only Italy who told me about Sevastopol, and I think France mostly talked about how we could wipe out Germany and England.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby another » 08 Feb 2019, 23:41

hedge trimmer wrote:Come on, you drilled me pretty hard, and it was obvious you knew that I wouldn't have moved like that without someone telling me your moves. I guess I could've ignored you, but it's not fair to make it seem like I told you about it right out of the gate. I gave you several reasons why I moved the way I did before I told you that, but for some reason you didn't believe me when I told you that you outplayed me etc. and you kept asking me why.

Apparently Italy already admitted to it? I think it was only Italy who told me about Sevastopol, and I think France mostly talked about how we could wipe out Germany and England.

I was drilling you about not ordering a self bounce with Ukraine (from memory) cutting any potential support from Rumania for one of the units (e.g. the "safe" move). But maybe I wasn't as subtle as I thought I was.

No, Italy didn't admit to it, he said something along the lines that either I am lying or you are lying about the tip (which was a very solid in-game answer to give).
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby another » 10 Feb 2019, 23:04

Greetings,

Well, this was one hell of a game emotionally, so all that is left to do now is re-live it once again, hopefully finding some closure.

This was my first Classicist game, and the next time I play (which will most probably be around next Christmas holidays), I will definitely play a Classicist game again, as from the communication and player activity point of view I was not disappointed.

When applying for the game I set England as my 1st preference, as I had never played with it and then Austria and Turkey with whom I had played once each (I think first Austria and then Turkey as I had also had Turkey in another game I joined to replace a surrendered player). I was given Austria, so still a relatively new experience!

Early Game

The only other time I had played Austria I opened hedgehog (Damn you Richard Sharp! And I mean that, "The Game of Diplomacy" was the first thing I read about this game, and it has unfortunately influenced my play quite a lot...), and that was one opening I definitely didn't want to make. I wanted to have a good relationship with Italy early on (so I could move Trieste to Albania to Greece). From the initial communication, Italy seemed positive enough. He said he'd be happy to work with me on something, but wasn't really taking any initiative and suggesting any moves, so I floated the idea of the Trieste gambit - where Austria agrees to allow Italian army from Venice to take Trieste in the fall in exchange asking the other Italian army not to follow in the footsteps and for Italy to build 2 fleets.

The thinking behind it is that once Italy has 3 fleets, he can easily attack one of France or Turkey (with the help of the Austria fleet) and his army in Trieste can join in with the Austrian armies to attack either Germany, Russia or Turkey. This also helps build a trust between the two countries.

Unsurprisingly, Italy agreed to this.

Out of the gate, Turkey wrote to me suggesting for both of us to attack Russia - Turkey would move to BLA and Arm, and I should take Rum. Something about this didn't feel entirely right, perhaps that the suggestion was made too early, without having a chance to establish any relationship, so I wasn't too hot to agree to it. Plus, early on I had agreed to bounce with Russia in Galicia, so it was clear that he will be having a Southern opening, which would scupper Turkey's plan. I've always found it hard to think of a better thing for Vienna to do than to bounce in Galicia (also when I've played other countries), so I guess I couldn't think of a line of reasoning to talk Russia out of bouncing there.

Elsewhere, Germany very early suggested for Germany, Austria and Italy to form a central triple, which we all agreed to. This turned out to be the most pointless alliance in the game, as I don't think there was a single turn where a single move was done to help the alliance. Germany gave Sweden to Russia, later had a very friendly relationship with Russia (Munich and Warsaw bounce in Silesia in 1902 spring, and in the fall DMZed Silesia with both units holding...), chose to attack England rather than France, then encouraged (to my understanding) France to attack Italy. Meanwhile, Italy and Austria encouraged France to attack Germany, and Austria tried to talk Italy and Russia to attack Germany. Finally, Austria attacked Italy. Central triple my ass.

France liked to ask a lot of questions without themselves giving any valuable information out, but they appeared very early devoted to attack England, and Germany seemed to also be up to that, but England didn't seem to heed any warnings. With Russia opening South, he could have held in there, but he didn't leave any defence up.

Finally, after giving total silent treatment in the fall, Turkey threw a curve-ball and supported Ukraine to Rumania. Which I think helped Austria quite a lot. To my understanding, Italy was very quick to tell everyone about the obvious Juggernaut rolling over and how everyone needed to unite against it. Whether because of that or some other reason, Russia very reasonably suggested to take on Turkey.

So in the early game, Germany and France worked on England and Russia, Austria and Italy worked on Turkey, which were both eliminated fairly quickly soon thereafter. From my point of view, what became apparent at this stage was that it was getting harder and harder to work with Italy. I think ultimately it was just a clash of two communication / reasoning styles. It wasn't any one thing that Italy did, but overall, everything he suggested seemed to be with Italy's interests in mind, rather than thinking about what's best for AI. He was always paranoid about France coming to get him (even after France had built 2 armies...), so his fleet stayed in TYR, the army in Trieste also didn't move from there - rendering the whole point of the Trieste gambit fairly useless.

Meanwhile, Russia was proving himself to be both a pleasant communicator and a trustworthy ally. My own favourite phrase of this game was "I don't need to know", which I used on quite a few occasions (most notably - later when Russia couldn't decide whether to attack France or Germany in the Middle Game), and the first time I used it was after suggesting to Russia that he could convoy Rumania to Armenia in the Fall of 1902, which if successful would firmly nail the Turkey's coffin shut, but obviously would also carry a lot of risk for an Austrian stab. I don't know whether Russia was thinking about it himself or it was some form of inception, but thus came the 1902 Fall of Convoys:
FRANCE: North Sea CONVOY Belgium to London -> resolved
ITALY: Ionian Sea CONVOY Tunis to Syria -> resolved
ITALY: Eastern Mediterranean CONVOY Tunis to Syria -> resolved
RUSSIA: Black Sea CONVOY Rumania to Armenia -> resolved

And this also brings us to the...

Middle Game

1903 saw France very deliberately, yet very inefficiently at first, move in on Germany. I'd love to hear more about the thinking behind the decision both to move on Germany rather than England / Russia / Italy and also - to do it building 2 armies. France, could you tell a bit more about it? Was this based on some promises / threats from other powers?

Meanwhile, Turkey was about to be eaten up, but I had made all the gains I was to make from Turkey, so it was the turn of Russia and Italy to gobble up the rest of it whilst I would be cutting supports / supporting the moves. But my relationship with Italy had deteriorated quite some, resulting with me myself becoming very paranoid about others knowing my unit movement, and being very cryptic about whether Greece would cover AEG or not. It wasn't essential for AEG to be covered, so I thought I might be cryptic now (so if Russia had decided to turn sides and support Turkey into Bulgaria or attack Bulgaria himself, he wouldn't know if Greece was supporting Bulgaria to hold or not).

I ended up ordering Greece to cover AEG, but nobody knew that I was doing that.

Then I get the notification that the orders have come in, and I see that Greece had bounced in AEG. And then I receive a notification that there is a message from Italy* - not sure what exactly he means, but he basically says something along the lines that he is frustrated and he guesses he should have been looking out for stabs. I log in to check the moves, and he had ordered:
Ionian Sea MOVE Aegean Sea -> Bounced
Tyrrhenian Sea MOVE Ionian Sea -> Bounced

(* - more on this a bit later)

Hmm, moving both his fleets onto me, and then accusing me of stabbing him? This made life much easier now. Up to now I had been waiting for someone to make the first move, so that I could see where I should be attacking - there had been really only 2 options - either Germany or Russia. But it would have been very hard to attack Germany (especially if nobody else was joining in) and I didn't really want to attack Russia, as he had proved himself to be a great person to work with. So it became clear - it was time to move on Italy.

Russia was also keen to join in - as then he would get Con, which would have otherwise been Italy's to gain. And he could then himself decide whether to side with Germany or France, I didn't need to know. Germany, I know you said I should have warned you about Russia moving in, but as I wrote during the game, I honestly didn't know he will. His move, though, suited me quite well. I didn't want to join in on any attacks on Germany myself, but with Russia and France working on Germany and Russia and me working on Italy, despite Scotland still floating somewhere on the periphery, it seemed like a very clear triple that would remain standing, and I would have been very happy for us to be the last three countries standing and then see how the game ends up. If we all 3 ended up working well together, helping each other and proving our trust, I'd be totally happy with a 3-way. But if it was clear that someone wasn't very trustworthy, or was making the inefficient moves, then there would be openings for 2-ways or solos.

Spring 1904 brought the famous "Silesia SUPPORT Burgundy to Silesia -> Cannot support square Silesia", which Russia claimed was a mis-order, but I've never believed in mis-orders, nor did I at the time. For me, it wasn't a terrible move, as it was clear, I will not be quick in eating up Italy, so slowing France down a bit was not a terrible thing. Since then, I understand, Russia has already admitted that it wasn't a mis-order?

And in the 1904 fall came the move that I regret the most. In 1903 I had built only 1 army and left a build for future) - hoping I would have Trieste open for a fleet build. I guess I wanted everything faster than was necessary. After having taken Venice in the spring I had 3 objectives:
- keep Venice
- have Trieste open for a build (so I can build a fleet) - so the army had to move out
- keep my fleet in Albania (what's the point of building a fleet if I get my other fleet destroyed?)
To achieve this I had to guess right, but more importantly, I needed France to help me, which he agreed to do. I had 4 potencial units that could bounce in Trieste, but Italy had a fleet in ADR, which could support one of the units. Albania could move to ADR to cut the support, but then would risk being destroyed if 2 of Italy's fleets teamed up to attack it.

Could I make a set, where he couldn't guess right? Not really, but I could come up with a set that would be very hard to guess. So I ordered Trieste to Vienna, Venice and Albania to bounce in Trieste (surely ADR wouldn't be supporting any of those moves?) and then double attacked Albania with Greece and Serbia and ordered Tyrolia to Venice with support from France. If France kept his word and provided the support, Italy couldn't conceivably guess this right, and I would keep Venice, but also have Trieste open for a build.

(I think late in the turn) Russia messaged me saying that he thinks France might want to keep Italy alive. I thought about it. What would France gain? I couldn't really think of anything. What I could foresee is Italy supporting France into Venice - as in, if he can't have it, at least I won't. But then Italy would anyway get rid of 1 unit, and France's fleet would have to travel from Marseilles. And still - why would France agree to that in the situation where my armies could start helping Germany? So I couldn't really think of any reason France would suddenly side with Italy. Plus, around this time was the first time when I was actually having a meaningful communication with France. So I decided to trust them.

In hindsight, I had the units to just support Venice to hold, get the build even if it is not another fleet, and then as Italy would destroy a unit, I would have eventually overcome them. But I was hasty, and I paid the price. At that point any dreams I had of solo-ing vanished. But so did any dreams France could have had.

Russia stabbed France and helped Germany back to some of his home centres and I got into a position to finally take Venice.

Wow, that is some amount of writing, and there is still quite some action left in this game. I don't think this game really had an "End Game" phase, but whatever you call it, I will finish about it later.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby Aurelia1 » 12 Feb 2019, 16:45

Building two armies was definitely a mistake, haha. I guess I didn’t see the point of being noncommittal and doing one fleet and one army, since Germany was expecting exactly two fleets. Maybe what I could have done was somehow get him to “let” me build an army in Marseilles and then simply move it to Burgundy instead of Piedmont. But yes, I had both Germany and Italy bugging me about my builds.
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