SuperPatsis2020 Final Board - Italy AAR

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SuperPatsis2020 Final Board - Italy AAR

Postby Badger1991 » 20 Nov 2020, 22:10

**Apologies up front for my lack of maps. I am not as a technologically savvy as some of my colleagues. **

As Italy is very challenging country, especially in a tournament, I started with a philosophy that I needed to find an ally quickly that I could rely on to get me over the 5 Supply Center point. I also opted to try and sell the Key Lepanto as a vehicle to drive discussions with Russia and Austria. Being an underutilized strategy, I thought discussing it would provide me greater opportunity to engage with my neighbors and build the necessary rapport. Even if my neighbors failed to join in, I thought the time developing a relationship with my neighbors would still be worth the effort. It had the added benefit of focusing on Turkey, which is a traditional concern for Italy, and undermine any efforts at a Juggernaut forming.

While my diplomatic efforts with Russia were adequate, the benefits with Austria were better than I expected. I was willing to bail on the Key Lepanto if Austria was not comfortable but to Austria’s credit he agreed to proceed. To provide greater comfort, I agreed not to move to Venice

For the first turn I started the Key Lepanto with the move to Trieste, but part of the plan was a DMZ of Galicia by Russia which did not happen. Fearing the Juggernaut, this made me more willing to partner with Austria instead of just stabbing him which was tempting having already taken Trieste. Austria and I then started discussing the possibility of working with Turkey against Russia in light of Russia opting to move into Galicia. While I was sure that Turkey had his eye on the possible Key Lepanto, I did not believe that we had done anything that would cross any of Turkey’s redlines.

As the diplomacy progressed, Turkey did a great job of communicating which contributed to the eventual shift from targeting Turkey, to targeting Russia. Therefore, in agreement with Austria, we opted to have me move to Budapest. It was not designed for me to successfully take Budapest but prevent Russia from sneaking in. I also agreed to build Austria’s confidence by moving Ionian out to Tunis. I was willing to show Austria that I was trusting him not to move to Ionian. I suspect, however, that this move contributed to France building a fleet in Marseille which I was not anticipating.

I thought I was fortunate to have two builds after the first year. Keeping an eye on France, I opted for two fleet builds which was prudent since he built a fleet in Marseille. I was not seeking to move against France, but I am sure that my posture was perceived as an anti-French one.

As the second year began, I remained impressed with how well Turkey was messaging. He spent a lot of time focused on the EF alliance; how they picked first, how previous tournament games showed a predominant EF alliance by the victors etc. At that point Turkey, Austria and Italy had a strong effort going. Messages were frequent and humorous. The proposals seemed to complement each other nicely. Therefore, the three of us agreed for Austria to support me into Galicia and Turkey and Austria to push Russia out of Rumania. I think this move was very effective and probably caught Russia off guard, not that one of us would attack him but that all three of us had so quickly and efficiently agreed on a course of action.
On the Western Front, having seen the French fleet build I figured that I need to move aggressively against France to counter any move against me. It may have appeared offensive in nature, but I would classify this move as an active defense as I also had to keep an eye on the Turkish fleet in Smyrna (and then Aegean) that could work with the Austrian fleet in Greece.

I think at this point, Austria and I were getting a bit nervous about the risk we still faced from Turkey. The original plan with Turkey was for me to gain Greece to compensate for my loss of Budapest but neither Austria nor I were sure that Turkey would comply. In retrospect, I don’t think Turkey was planning to break up that three-way alliance, at least not so early in the game, but it seemed to me a bit confining for Turkey to agree on being channeled up into Russia. Moreover, once Turkey got his fifth unit, it would have been virtually impossible to attack him in the corner as the game progressed.

Before making a final decision, I tried to re-engage with Russia. I pitched to Russia that Turkey and Austria were really driving the show and my lonely army in Galicia did not give me any ability to influence their requests. I talked about a possible move against Turkey who I perceived bore the brunt of Russia’s frustration. This started to bring together a plan to move against Turkey. I could move against Rumania with Russian assistance and Austria would move against Bulgaria. While I was very reluctant to move against Turkey since he had been a constructive partner in the past several turns, it seemed to provide the best avenue for Italy and Austria’s development.

At the same time, I was in a conundrum on how to handle France. The French fleet in Gulf of Lyon was a strategic problem for Italy, primarily as it could convoy an army to Tuscany. I also recognized that I needed at least one more fleet in the West to provide an adequate defense. That determination put me over the edge on the move against Turkey as it was the only plan that allowed me to get that extra fleet that I needed against France. Ultimately the plan that turn against Turkey worked as I was able to take Rumania and Austria was able to take Bulgaria but the diplomatic cost would later prove high.

At the same time, I knew that France wanted to preserve the two fleets in MAO and Gulf of Lyon but being in Western Med he had to protect Spain. I gambled that he was going to try and self-bounce in Spain, so I supported Gulf of Lyon to Spain. This was probably one of the most important outcomes for Italy in the first part of the game as it removed the Gulf of Lyon threat for the short term and gave me time to build up a strong defense against France in the Med.

During the build phase I was able to add the extra fleet I needed. Turkey was down to three fleets, still a formidable adversary but one who had to defend against Russia, Austria and Italy. I still had no real answer about my wandering army but I figured that if I lost Rumania and the army, it would not be a strategic loss.

It was at this time that my alliance with Austria was solidified, at least in my mind. We had both stabbed Turkey so it would be hard for either of us to shift back to Turkey. We began discussing equity as the cornerstone of our movements. I have to concede that at this time I was not tracking that a draw in this game would actually mean a tournament win for Austria as he had more points than me. Later, that would become more of a factor in my decision to move against Austria.

To Turkey’s credit, he was a good sport about the moves. His communications remained upbeat and he continued to try and minimize any further damage that I could inflict. His humor also helped to break the intensity of the game.

Looking more broadly, Austria and I were still facing an English/French alliance. As Turkey had noted, these alliances had proven very successful in earlier tournament contests and there was no natural way to counter that alliance as Russia was clearly focused in the east and Germany was trying to survive the onslaught. The obvious choice was to get France to turn against England but I viewed this as a long-shot. Nevertheless, I lobbied France hard that with my numerous fleets and weakened Turkey would make French advancement against Italy a challenge. Further, while he may be able to beat me in the end, he would quickly fall behind his English partner in size as Russia and Germany presented more opportunities. I tried to convince him that a move against England, who was a bit over-exposed, would be more lucrative for him.

Looking back, France probably tired of my messages as they were long and detailed. Having said that, I thought this decision would really dictate whether I had any chance at competing for victory or simply remain a middle-road power so I invested a lot of time and energy to the effort. To my pleasant surprise, France moved against England changing the entire dynamic of the game. I moved to Gulf of Lyon as a defensive measure but also to convince France that I would not try and move into the MAO.

Moving back East, Austria and I continued our efforts against Turkey. We knew it would be time consuming, but Turkey had the inherent weakness of having to defend so many fronts at once. Eventually I was able to get into Eastern Med and Austria was able to take Constantinople, but Turkey did not make it easy. Moreover, France and I had a nice détente going and we agreed to keep a more robust DMZ between us allowing me to deploy more forces east.

I was able to take Smyrna while my army in Ukraine at this point was serving as a proxy for Austria. Ultimately, I knew I was going to lose Rumania, but it was really a question on how much value could that one army have before that destruction time arrived. At this time, Austria agreed with Turkey to support him into Sevastopol to help further weaken Russia. Both Austria and I thought this was good move as Turkish forces would be separated. Nevertheless, it was at this point that Austria and I had our first disagreement. The plan was for me to move the army in Apulia to Smyrna to help finish off Turkey. But I was beginning to worry that Turkey could re-take Constantinople if he was not being honest with Austria and I needed the fleet in Aegean to support it. While I was not really clear with Austria, partly based on real-life time pressures, I opted to only convoy the army to Greece. That would keep Ionian open for other duties the following turn and allow me to convoy to Smyrna the next turn if necessary. While I had not made up my mind yet on my next steps, I was cognizant that I was running out of centers to take. I was at seven and had a good chance to take Ankara but from that moment I would be dependent on Austria to keep to our previous balance agreement as I did not see any other avenue for real growth.

At the same time, it was becoming clear that France had a lot of open space to grow in the West and I had no opportunity to offset that growth. Based on conversations with Germany, I opted to move several fleets back to the West to help out Germany and hopefully divert some French forces. I am not sure that France was surprised by that move, but it did create more uncertainty between France and I for the rest of the game.

It was at that point that I opted to pursue a strike against both France and Austria. There were outside factors that were supporting this maneuver, but it was primarily motivated by my desire to have leverage over the final board count. Normally, I would have stuck with Austria to the end-game but he was continuing to grow and I had no real opportunity to stop that. I felt that this move strategically was premature as I did not think that I could hold off both Austria and France until 1909 but I did not think that I could really explain why I was not moving to Smyrna any longer and with Austria set to continue growing, my windows were closing. Moreover, once I convoyed the army to Smyrna, it would be stuck there for most of the rest of the game.

Fortunately, Germany and I had discussed possibility of him taking Warsaw as part of his support to Austria which would further weaken Austria, if only for one year. Moreover, I knew that there was a united effort against France in the West. Turkey, seemed to be holding off on moving against Constantinople but it was getting harder to keep Turkey onside.

For that reason, I took the leap and moved into Bulgaria and Marseille. On the positive I was able to grow by two and I had interior lines but I also guaranteed that I would be the prime target for the rest of the game. My hope was that these additional units would give me enough to defend myself for a few more years but it was going to be a dogfight.

The end-game was spent sparring with France, Austria and Turkey while keeping Germany focused anywhere but Tyrolia. Each turn was a challenge. There were some moves I guessed right and others I guessed wrong. For example, I lost Marseille but was able to take Trieste.

Based on the intensity, in looking back at some of my messages, I think I could have improved the tone in some of them. Especially with Turkey, I was trying to retain a tenor of friendly banter but I think it came across as a bit patronizing. For that I apologize.

In the end, I was mindful that there was growing consensus against me. Moreover, I recognized that Austria only needed to be tied with me to win while I needed at least one more SC than him if not two. While I think that I would have been able to be tied with Austria by the end of 1909, French willingness not to defend against my moves into Brest and Marseille clearly put me over the top. While he tempted me with that offer in response to the support Austria was getting from Turkey and England, I left that up to him to decide. In the end, I did not actually believe he would do that until I saw the final move.

Overall, I want to thank everyone for a quite enjoyable tournament and an epic challenge to the very end. I look forward to sparring again the near future.

Be Safe.

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Re: SuperPatsis2020 Final Board - Italy AAR

Postby dib » 21 Nov 2020, 17:41

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