The Guns of December AAR

Discussion of finished games.

The Guns of December AAR

Postby Oxmeister » 17 Dec 2020, 00:24

Game : 186245
Map variant: Standard
Game type: gunboat
Stats: rank
Public: yes
Variants: Classic
Map: mapv2

Background

Fresh from a Solo victory as Russia in my 2nd game, I decided to play Gunboat. I’d played a few gunboat games before signing up here to learn the game, so I was excited to see how I would play going back to this format with more experience, although I knew the games would be more difficult given it is a premium feature here and thus played by more committed players.
I was allocated England – I was happy about this because I’d played England in my first game here and felt it suited me. Although England is regarded a weaker power in Gunboat, I still felt comfortable with the good defensive position. It’s also my home country.

Early Game – The French Attack

My early objective was really very simple – ally Germany and destroy France (with getting StP as a secondary objective). I read some articles, mainly on Brotherboard about England openings and saw found that BB advocated the channel opening (Yorkshire variant) which was the opening I’d been considering alongside moving the army to Wales, so that decided it.

France made a regular opening leaving me in the channel, giving me a guess at whether to go for MAO, Belgium, or Brest. At this point I consulted my secret and was surprised to note that attacks on Brest from this position were far more likely to succeed than I expected – I duly ordered my fleet to Brest, convoying the army to Norway, and crossed my fingers. To my delight, France moved to Portugal giving me Brest – 2 builds a no new Atlantic fleet for France.
I forged a successful alliance with Germany quickly neutering France and Russia and eliminating all northern fleets in a few years, this was an excellent start.

Midgame

Image

At this point I needed to work out how to turn my good position into a good result. A 2 way with Germany in gunboat was not realistic, so it was either work towards a 3 way (with Turkey or Austria) or solo.
In my favour was that the Italian moves seemed to be playing into my favour, and I felt there would be further easy pickings in the med. Against me, the German player seemed very competent, and would be tricky to outmanoeuvre.
The EG presses on for several years, pushing the southern powers back until they seem to form a line, which Austria in particular is very keen to keep. Surely this game would not result in a 6 way abomination.

I look at Turkey as being in the strongest position of the 4, and start trying to peel him away – he’d just cut support for Moscow by taking Sev, so I figure he’s still more interested in his own game than mine. I start to signalling to Turkey that I will support him into Naples.
In the Spring Germany breaks through due to Russian retreat into Austrian lands, and we’re over their line. All good, but I realise there’s a bigger problem – having just got 11 and Germany on 9, it was going to be Germany’s turn to get 1 or 2 builds, and at this point he had no fleets and 2 fewer units.
Coincidentally Brotherbored releases a podcast at this time about how EG can stab each other, and my thoughts are confirmed – I’m much stronger than Germany, and especially because Germany doesn’t have fleets. If Germany gets 2 builds & builds Fleets, it’s going to be like losing 4 units on him.
It’s now or never, this is the position, what do I do?
Image

With at least 3 centers open, I go for the Stab. It’s a complete success netting me 3 centers, and perhaps just as importantly, Turkey does cut Naples meaning I take Rome from Italy also to move from 11 to 15.

The Endgame

Despite a very successful stab and having 4 centers over the stalemate line, I needed a path to victory when the board was united against me and I had a pitiful amount of armies on the continent. With few armies in Western Europe and Austria determined to help Germany stop me, I envisage Munich/Berlin being very hard to crack.

I have a solid solo position as England minus the experience of how to get there. At this point I consult my secret weapon again and identify English solos that don’t involve Munich, and they are rare, and generally involve England reaching Sev or gaining Italian centers. The former looked hard, but the latter was possible. Better still seemed trying to use my 3 armies around Moscow to hold Moscow AND Tunis in the south. I quickly devise a 3 plan system:

Plan A – Moscow AND Tunis.
Plan B – Hold an Italian center in addition to Tunis. One of Berlin/Munich will do.
Plan C – Find a way to get Berlin & Munich as well as Tunis.
My A plan goes up in smoke almost instantly as Germany focuses on the East, I’ll be out of Warsaw the next turn and possibly Moscow too by the end of the year. Onto Plan B. I prioritise getting my armies out of Russia and back to defend Scandinavia while working on destroying Germany as quick as possible.
I get stuck on 15 for a short time and receive a 4 way draw proposal from my former ally Germany which I give good consideration – I can’t see a way to Munich or Berlin, but I note that I don’t need to respond this season.

With the security of a draw proposal agreed by the other powers, I look at how I might get into Munich – I study the stalemate lines again when something hits me - Piedmont. Austria was bouncing the german owned (but empty) Venice and I realised I could slip an Army down into Marseille, and then support it Piedmont, from there I could tap Tyrolia. The move works, while I take Holland Kiel to get to 17. Can I take Munich? I move to Tyrolia hoping that I either get there or A/T bounce each other out of Boh – I’m in luck as Austria vacates in favour of protecting Venice, and I now have a triple supported attack on Munich. Turkey does go to Bohemia but it’s not enough, even this Turkey won’t be able to prevent Christmas.

I hold Munich for 16/17 of the Northern centers along with Tunis and Rome for a very satisfying Solo, celebrated, like the last one with a nice glass of Whisky.

The key turning point

The season of the stab was key – not just because the stab worked, but because Turkey let me capture Rome, which proved pivotal. Even with this, I needed further favourable moves from Austria to get the Solo, but it was the point at which my position became very strong.

The Stab

I feel this game was harsh on the German because his tactical play was so sound. However, he had left so many centers open to me, combined with the very real possibility he could lay down 2 fleets in the next build window, that I went for the stab.

What did I learn

Perhaps the main point was how difficult it is fighting in Italy without armies! I had sent so many fleets into the med but neglected armies. Had Turkey moved his Serbian army to Apulia instead of a fleet, I would not have been able to solo, but was fortunate that none of the southern powers committed fully (or correctly) to expelling me from Italy.

So there's my take, would love to hear any thoughts of any of the other players who took part.
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Oxmeister
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