Version 2; GMd by Morg. 3-way draw between Britain (mambam14), Mexico (ColesD) and Spain (Pedros)


Postby Morg » 01 May 2014, 06:05

And the game comes to a close wtih Great Britain, Mexico, and Spain agreeing to a draw.

This is your place for AARs.

As GM I may post some of my thoughts a little later
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Re: AARs

Postby Gooderian » 01 May 2014, 12:25

My first draft of an AAR, TBE.

In the beginning, I made peace with the USA, and planned on expanding westward. A while later, pedros approached me with the plan for taking out America, which I agreed to.

While we are eliminating any american resistance, mexico started to grow big. I formed an ALA with spain and texas to prevent him from soloing. This went on for the greatest part of the game, until spain broke through and got a fleet in the pacific. Mexico told me around that moment that he would withdraw from the north, in order to focus on the spanish front. While he withrdaw, I took his centers and grew close to a solo. I didn´t notice that until spain turned on me with mexican help.

I rejected a draw because I wanted to achieve my first DVFG solo, but accepted the last draw as I didn´t rate my solo chances very high.
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Re: AARs

Postby ColesD » 01 May 2014, 14:39

I told you this would be long!

My first DVFG, and what a game! 17 years long, 8 months of real time, and I managed to start and finish 3 other DVFGs (one as a replacement) in between. It honestly has to go down as one of the best games I’ve played on the site, even if it did drag a little bit at one stage (see below). As this is long, I’ve broken down my summary into 4 phases: start to hiatus, hiatus to stab, post-stab and endgame.

Start to Hiatus (1841-44)

On drawing Mexico, I immediately determined my key priority was to forge an agreement with Spain. Spain is the only power with the potential to be at Mexico’s back, so I knew if I had an alliance with him, I only had to look forward and could drive northward into the X-rich West faster. The key to early play in Manifest Destiny it seems to me is speed, plus a lot of forward planning, more so than in regular Dip. You have to shepherd your Pioneers into key locations as fast as possible, before anyone else, so you have to be looking maybe two years ahead so you make sure you know where your next builds are coming from and plan accordingly. Missing a build opportunity can be crucial. Looking back on it, my opening wasn’t perfect, but overall I like to think I used Pioneers better than anyone else in the game.
Fortunately Pedros, who gave the impression he felt he’d been given the roughest deal by drawing Spain, agreed to an alliance, so I was set. He also made a crucial early error – he built a starting army. I think Spain has to build 3 fleets to start with, and building an army meant he missed out on claiming CAM. I was able to get his agreement to take it, giving me an early boost, but I had to agree to cede it back to him later, which set up problems for me down the line (see below). USA (Shibabalo) leapt to an early lead, which we were able to use to generate a coalition against him – the start of our understanding with Britain (mambam14) – but he ran a Pioneer into an Indian in Iowa early on, and he never came back from that.
I managed to get as far as SON and CHI, but couldn’t get a Pioneer into SND. Meanwhile, Texas (raygoat)’s Pioneer was wandering north, unchecked by Britain or Indians, and I was getting outnumbered. At this point, I went away for a week, and attitudes stepped in as a sub.

Hiatus to stab (1844-48)

attitudes made one crucial move in his time as sub that I don’t think I would have spotted – he moved F(GoC)-MPO, giving up trying to get a Pioneer into SND in favour of chasing Texas’ undefended Pioneer in the north. With Texas having no army to protect his newly created centres, I could finally get in behind him, and the distraction allowed me to get into SND anyway. Finally I had Texas on the run, and could press home my advantage. Also with Britain ignoring Pioneers I had free rein to expand into the untamed north west. I was now the dominant power on the board and could contemplate the possibility of a solo. However, a few crucial things meant it was not to be.
First, Texas had snuck an isolated fleet into CAM, and to remove it, I had to honour my agreement to return the centre to Spain. He now had a foothold into Mexico. USA was finished off, meaning the British and Spanish armies now facing each other were confronted with a choice – fight or come to some kind of deal. Finally, a losing Texas proposed a 3-way Mexico-Britain-Spain draw, which I announced my intention to reject, possibly a little too enthusiastically. Whatever it was, the next turn, Spain stabbed me, got Britain on his side, and my hopes of a solo were gone.
As it turned out, Spain picked exactly the right turn for the stab. I was on 13/34 at the time, with Texas about to be crippled, the north west open for my Pioneer and the bulk of Britain and Spain’s forces on the wrong side of the board. If Spain had waited one more year for the death of Texas, I would probably have done it. Oh well.

Post-stab (1848-54)

At first, things didn’t look so bad. I was able to beat Britain to the north west, hold my border with Spain (and Texas until he was finished off) and get to 15/38 at my highest point. But I was never able to break into Britain’s heartland, and try as I might, I could not find a stalemate line to hold permanently against Britain or Spain, which is a testament to Morg’s map design. I had no offensive capability against Spain, which meant he was slowly able to manoeuvre into position to take my centres. The game had become a slow grind for me; I was suffering slow death by a thousand cuts and getting a little bored. As the best I could hope for was a 3-way draw, I couldn’t break the Britain-Spain alliance and if I just hung on I could end up being whittled down until someone made it over the line to win without my being able to do anything about it, I decided to take the high risk option. I decided to throw my northern centres to Britain.

Endgame (1855-57)

By giving up centres to Britain, I hoped I could force Spain to negotiate and change sides. I knew I could hold a line against Britain at SNF-ARZ-NMX if it came to it, so I worked out the most he could get to was 18/39 (two short of victory) without attacking Spain. My withdrawal worked well, almost too well in fact as Britain was racing into the space I vacated and I wondered if I had given too much. Fortunately, it had the desired effect of forcing Spain to the table and he agreed to a counterattack. We held Britain back to 15 at the close and he accepted the draw.
Had the game continued, I think Spain and I would have pushed Britain back and established ourselves once more as the leading powers on the board. However, we’d both proved we were not going to let the other one solo (and besides, with an odd number of SCs, a 2-way draw was impossible), so a 3-way draw was the only outcome. A highly competitive, well-balanced game.

The variant

I have to say, I loved this variant. As I said, it takes good forward planning to be successful, and it’s important to know the intricacies of the rules. Being only a 5-player variant there are less diplomatic options, but it's a great variant from a strategic point of view. The Indian units do add an element of randomness, yes, (they definitely hurt USA this game) but they’re necessary and I can’t think of a better way to restrain the Pioneers. The only thing I worry about is USA’s position seems quite weak, being surrounded and with Britain in particular on top of him from the start. Spain is one of those countries with good defence but limited growth potential but I’d regard that as less of a problem. The game ended in an evenly balanced 3-way position, and stalemate lines are minimal. With the speed of growth restricted, this game lends itself to the long haul, so be prepared for that when joining. I would like to see another game of this some time, definitely. Thanks to Morg for excellent GMing, my fellow players for a great game and attitudes for subbing.
Information, the first principle of warfare, must form the foundation of all your efforts. Know, of course, thine enemy. But in knowing him do not forget above all to know thyself. The commander who embraces this totality of battle shall win even with inferior force. - Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
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Re: AARs

Postby raygoat » 03 May 2014, 01:24

This was quite an interesting game for me, and I certainly enjoyed it while it lasted. The one crucial mistake I made in the early game was to trust the US (my original chosen ally) when he said that "Britain is a weak player and will not stab." Looking back on the map now, Britain essentially has no other choice. I chose Mexico as my target for the main reason that the other nations were too far away from me for the possibility of an attack. The plan was to have my pioneer wander around the west, which seemed to be deserted, and slowly build up forces to break Mexico's defenses. The only problem was, after Mexico sent the fleet to the MPO, I could not hold on to my Northern centers. I still had hope to hold on to my position in the south, and perhaps work something out with Spain, until Britain's forces managed to get in behind me. At that point, I was completely and utterly doomed.

As for the variant itself, I liked it quite a bit. The size of the map is a huge upside, and certainly allows for a bit of creativity. The biggest problem is probably the lack of options in who to attack, which might be remedied (If this game is to be run again) by expanding the map up into Alaska, and adding Russia as the sixth power. Still, for my first DVFG, this was a wonderful variant.
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Re: AARs

Postby Pedros » 24 May 2014, 11:53

First let me say thanks to Morg for handling this excellently; and also that I really enjoyed it - although I have some serious concerns about the map and starting line-up - of which more later, although they come into the actual AAR right at the start.

I went for Spain because it looked very weak and I enjoy seeing what I can make of a poor position! (Masochist? Who said that :evil: ) Spain has almost nowhere to go at the beginning; on the other hand, one of the nearer neighbours - US - looked way over-strong. I pointed this out to Britain (mambam) and suggested an immediate attack on him and mambam jumped at the idea (a huge bonus because I know mambam to be a 100% reliable ally. Have to watch it though, I sense that he's beginning to get a taste for blood!) We were able to eliminate US early (aided, if I recall, by one of his armies running into the first native encampment.)

At the other end of the board I did an early deal with Mexico. In part this was a simple agreement to work in different directions, but also it involved an agreement over Cam. Cam is the only gain which Spain can be certain of in the first year, by convoying a Pioneer in the Fall. The other possibility is Florida, but that depends upon US goodwill; since I intended to attack him, that couldn't be relied on. But if I threw a fleet and the Pioneer at Cam, what did it do then? Mexico was certain to be in Yuc and my chances of expansion there were minimal and I would have set myself back severely. So I offered Cam to Mexico on a loan basis until I was able to pick it up later (ColesD, to his credit, actually fulfilled his part of the bargain without argument, which launched my stab!)

I believe that Florida was the only SC I was able to create in the whole game, because by the time I reached any others they were created long since - an example of the weakness of Spain's position; scarcely any serous opportunities for expansion without warfare, unlike all the others.

Nevertheless, Britain and I were able to grow steadily. Mexico was pressing me hard to move against Britain but not only did I trust mambam not to stab me (thus releasing units for elsewhere) but it was also clear to me that Mexico - already in the lead - would gain as much as I did from Britain's weakness, and would go on to solo. Attacking Mexico was my only route to victory.

From the outset, it was clear to me that one of the major weaknesses in the map was the fact that for most of the game Mexico would have sole access to the Pacific, giving him both additional opportunities for expansion up the West coast and also a long boundary on the West which did not need defending - a huge advantage. Getting at least one fleet into the Pacific was a target from the outset and when eventually I managed it I thought victory was assured. ColesD however operated a scorched earth policy in the north, handing centre after centre to Britain whilst massing his defences against me, until I was forced to accept that the only way to any kind of result was to agree to a 3-way, which Mexico had been pushing for for quite some time, and to stop further growth by Britain. I had felt at the start that a draw would be a very good result for me. From mid-game on, nothing but a solo would have satisfied me!

Well played both of you! For myself, I was particularly pleased with the development of my attack on the Mexican mainland aganst a position which appeared to be fairly impregnable.

Now to the map and the starting positions. I am not surprised that Raygoat felt he had limited opportunities. I would prefer to see the position played again, perhaps in a 2/3 year test game, to assess whether it is possible to improve the outcome (there are plenty of Xs; but they can only yield one centre in year 1)

I have already referred to what seemed clearly to me the strength of US at the opening. Why on earth they deserve a fourth starting centre escapes me, surrounded as they are by Xs - the biggest problem in the first turn must be which to go for first!! The contrast with Spain's position is stark. I know that it was possible for Britain and Spain to reduce him quickly, but a map where the only rational opening is a particular alliance is poor Diplomacy.

So, in brief, criticisms of the map and opening:-
- The fourth centre for US unbalances the game greatly
- Texas' very cramped position is at least a concern
- Mexico's sole access to the Pacific for much of the game is very unfair and used deliberately for the ppossibly urpose could prevent anybody else ever getting there
- Spain needs more flexibility in the opening which are not balanced by the defensive advantages of naval isolation - there are enough fleets around to enable an anti-Spain alliance to succeed very quickly
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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