AARs

4 player game set in Seattle. Devised and GM'ed by Morg

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AARs

Postby Morg » 20 Sep 2016, 05:23

Let me start by saying, I'm sorry. This was not one of my better GMing stints. I made a few mistakes, went a little long with some deadlines and forgot that this map was supposed to be build anywhere.

Also thank you guys. This is a map I've been toying with and since I live in Seattle it's kind of fun to watch people play it. Also your games have given me some ideas to make it better. I think Kitsap is still a little too isolated and a few more ferry lanes would help. Also it might be better if ferry lanes simply made the territories connected adjacent.

I hope that despite the games flaws and my own as GM, you still had a fun, if sometimes frustrating game (looking at you nanook ;) )

The rest of this space if for your thoughts, questions, stories, etc.

Thank you again
"He says there are no easy answers. I say he's not looking hard enough!"
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Re: AARs

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 20 Sep 2016, 20:04

Intro

I joined this game while I was just dipping my feet into PBF at PlayDiplomacy. It was a requirement for getting GM-certified, and I think it's a good requirement. A GM should have some experience as a player with this particular set of people.

I've noticed quite a few differences between PBF and PBEM (my usual gig), though more were apparent in joe92's game of Modern Extended (which I was quickly eliminated from). Because this map was only four players, we didn't have the sort of recurring NMR/replacement nightmare that seems to plague the larger games.

Player Count Issues

Unfortunately, however, the lower player count might have been a bit too low. It was especially problematic to have each of us at different compass-rose points on the map. I think Diplomacy games with a 3-6 player count have to work harder to provide some of the asymmetric relationships that occur more-or-less naturally in 7+ player games (though 2-player games probably need to be more set up like a chessboard). Ancient Med suffers from this a bit too; everyone has very similar diplomatic triangles.

Possible Change #1: Add a fifth player.
Possible Change #2: Arrange the players in a different fashion, possibly separating the starting locations of each player (similar to Chaos variants).

Geography Features


The map of Seattle certainly provided geographic asymmetry, if not social asymmetry. I loved the concept of the highways, but my position meant that I almost never got to use them. The ferry routes were an interesting addition.

The layout of the water and the coastlines created a number of trivially-maintained stalemate lines. This may or may not have been intentional, but it meant that my units got very little movement in much of the midgame. I think Morg's mention of having potentially more ferry routes would be smart. Getting every island and peninsula connected by at least 1-2 ferries would allow more flexibility for an isolated western position.

Possible Change #3: Rearrange the connectivity of water and shoreline, possibly with more ferries.

The Naming of Names


One very basic change might be to rethink the names of one or all of the powers. In particular, I was constantly getting Snohomish and Sammamish mixed up. I don't know enough about Seattle to comment on what would replace one of those, if you are to stick to regional names. I just know that the fact that they begin and end with the same sets of letters made it hard for me to remember which was which color. It's like reading a novel with two different characters who are unironically named Jonathan Smith and John Nathan Schmidt.

Another alternative might be to consider switching from regional names to using corporate names for the powers. This might be especially useful if you mix up the starting locations a bit, as the connection to North, South, East, and West is looser.
    i.e.
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Starbucks
  • Nordstrom
  • Costco

Possible Change #4: Use a different power-naming convention, or at least replace one of Sammamish/Snohomish.

Communication

As seen in our public discussion, I have very different beliefs about Diplomacy communication than some of my counterparts. Some of it is that I'm not the greatest of Diplomacy players. I enjoy public communication quite a bit and tend to do relatively well at public-press-only games, but private messages are always more tough for me. I know that I tend to ramble on, and I'm more likely to trust someone who engages me in conversation, and that's a weakness on my part. I am more easily stabbed by those who get me to keep typing.

I know that this approach doesn't mesh well with players who only enjoy going up against great communicators. I suspect that I'll probably never earn a "Star Ambassador" title on this site.

It's also tough to muster up any energy to communicate when I feel there's little to say. It's another potential downside of small player counts; once you know who your enemies are, you have a limited pool of potential allies to reach out to.

Personal Possible Improvement: Get better at communicating, and use silence less as a crutch.

Builds

Much discussion has surrounded the question of whether this should have been played as build-anywhere (chaos builds). I would certainly have played a very different game if that were the case, but I'm not sure it would have done much other than to make my position very weak.

I think using chaos builds would be an improvement, assuming that the starting positions and/or western half of the map are somewhat rearranged. However, I'm a believer in using a builds-per-year limit to prevent chaos builds from getting out of hand. Maybe this could play similar to aberration build rules, where you only get as many new units as the number of (your original) home locations possessed, though the actual build locations can be any vacant controlled SC.

Possible Change #5: A decision to go to "build anywhere" should probably be accompanied by other changes.

Neutral Supply Centers

Depending on other changes made, I do think that a change in the number of neutral SC's is merited. It helps to get the game off to an interesting start when everyone has some room to expand, but not too much room. You probably still want some conflict and competition in the first year, and having fewer neutrals can help that. The current ratio of owned:neutral is 8:21, which differs sharply from classic (22:12), 1900 (25:14), and Versailles (29:14). It's even lower than Ancient Med (15:19), though that one is similar in being perhaps a bit too open in the first year.

Possible Change #6: Rein in the neutral count, either by cutting total SC's or increasing starting SC's.
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