Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

7 player map set in the Aegean. GM'ed by Aeschines. 2 player draw shared by Athens (Blueborjigin) and Troy (Ghostecho)

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Re: Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 24 Apr 2017, 23:30

Ephesus After-Action Report

I quite enjoyed this game, particularly at the beginning. The mashup of so many different variants made for a pretty wild setup. I have some tweaks to suggest, but I'll save those for another post.

Thanks to Aeschines for GM-ing, and thanks to the other players, particularly those of you who communicated so effectively.

The First Letter of the Ephesians

I set a goal early on to try and push my "comfort zone" a bit with this game. I'm not always the most effective communicator, so I tried to make messaging everyone more of a priority.

I also tend to be fairly bad at deceptive play, so I started the game attempting to be a bit two-faced. I knew that my position was vulnerable. There was the obvious imperial threat, but should the Empire come from any direction other than East, I'd also need to take down Halicarnassus (or be conquered in turn).

So, along those lines, I decided that I should start painting Halicarnassus as an ineffective communicator. If others had to pick between us, I wanted to be the one who seemed worth keeping around.

Meanwhile, the group had begun discussing the possibility of having a Hegemon negotiating our DP and moves to make sure that the Empire showed up as weak as possible.

The Second Letter of the Ephesians

At some point, I decided that the other means of increasing my chances of survival would be to have a sort of semi-collaboration with the Empire, but not to the level that my alliance-of-convenience would be obvious. In other words, I needed to be much more two-faced than normal.

This was awfully risky, and it's not the sort of thing I'm normally good at, and it ultimately failed. The big turn that could have been much more interesting was Fall 498.

Aardvark made an extremely vague offer that I thought could turn out rather interesting.

If you make NO MOVE OR EFFORT of any sort against me, your home center will be safe. Make no attack against me, use no DP points to interfere with me

The orders I have submitted will result in the safety of your home city. Conversely, interference in the wrong places could cause my moves to fail, and thereby result in me unintentionally taking control of Ephesus


My position on the board was a rather precarious one. Playing too defensively, however, could yield very poor results overall. Having a neutral unit inside my capital was a tricky situation indeed.

While Aardvark offered little detail for his half-baked idea, I decided to take a go-big-or-go-home approach. If he was planning the moves that I assumed, based on his hints, he would nearly sweep Halicarnassus off the board, and he and I could both potentially pick up 1-2 new units. We'd then set ourselves up as allies-of-convenience for the next few years until one of us got the upper hand.

But such a plan required very specific orders to be carried out by the neutrals in our proximity, and Aardvark repeatedly deflected any question about how DP should be spent in order to ensure that this grand secret plan would actually work. I was particularly frustrated by the fact that he told my to spend my DP on units to attack Ilium even though there were no neutral units anywhere near Ilium. It was as if he hadn't bothered to look at the actual map.

After a very long string of messages, he eventually relented. I was out walking the dog at the time; I saw on my phone that his DP-oriented requests were in line with what I'd already decided to submit as preliminary orders, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had everything in place for a set of moves that would look like an attack on the Empire while simultaneously keeping my end of the bargain with him.

For those of you not reading between the lines: my mistake in Fall 498 was not actually a mistake. I thought I was being oh-so-smart. Had everything gone as planned, Aardvark & I would have picked up at least one unit each, but it would still appear as if I was working against the Empire, thus preserving my relationships with the rest of the Hegemony at least for another season or so.

Where Things Did Not Go As Planned

After the adjudication of that fateful Fall, Aardvark sent me the following sanctimonious message.

When I saw that you had read my message at 20 minutes before deadline, but did not respond, I knew that you were not going to honor my request for no hostilities.

I had orders that would have utterly crushed Halicarnassus, but saw that I had no choice but to take you on as well, and at the extreme last minute, shifted.

Alas, what coulda, shoulda, woulda been if we had allied in peace and you had gotten the upper hand against Illium...


I still don't actually know whether he
  1. Never intended to go forward with the plan
  2. Did intend to go forward with the plan, but got spooked over something meaningless

Was he really so paranoid that my lack of final response...
  • 20 minutes prior to the deadline
  • to a message that did not request a response
  • in a thread of messaging that had already gone on for hours
...was the trigger for a total reversal of course?

If he had always intended to attack me, then I applaud him for successfully wasting my time. My gambit backfired.

If he had not always intended to attack me, and he really did get spooked by something so silly as that, then I have to say this: Aardvark, you screwed up.

Whether originally intended or not, the strange thing was that Aardvark's eventual moves were not actually the best for him even though they were certainly bad for me. By destroying the neutral unit occupying my capital, Aardvark claimed that SC, but he also nixed a unit that should have instead been an immediate capture.

Also, instead of capturing Hali's capital, which he could have much more successfully defended in future turns and possibly gotten a build from, he went after my Ephesus, which was surrounded by other units and could be fairly easily reclaimed.

So, in summary, I was certainly left in a shitty position overall, but for all his machinations, Aardvark had
  • No unit capture AND
  • No viable build location for the next Fall

Reverse! Reverse!

It was at this point that I decided I was no longer interested in winning the game. I just wanted to make sure that Aardvark did not win the game. To that end, I left my flank intentionally open and threw all of my units into reclaiming Ephesus (and other nearby SCs).

I also apologized fairly profusely for my mistakes (both in orders and in painting Hali as a traitor). I vacated Byzantium as a show of good faith, and all of us in the anti-Empire camp began our campaign of elimination.

This went about as well as I expected, though a few particular disagreements over strategy between Ilium and Hali led to a few missed opportunities.

By the time GhostEcho burned the gates of Ephesus, however, I was really ready to be done with the game. The fact that I'd taken Byzantium in that fateful blunder of a turn made me feel that I rather deserved to just surrender to Ilium. It was still a better option than letting Aardvark get the upper hand again.

A Note About Fall 496

The moment I felt most stupid in this game was not, however, my trusting of Aardvark. It was my orders mistake in Fall 496.

There's nothing quite so humbling as to submit an intentional mistake one year only to make an unintentional mistake in a later year of nearly the same type. I protested the adjudication on the forums as a last resort, but I knew that I'd need to just eat crow on that.

I do believe that there needs to be a better way to label units. That is my real and honest opinion as a player and as a map designer. Having other regions' three-letter codes on the units themselves is a royal pain-in-the-ass, especially when those units can cover up the names of the regions they actually occupy.

But the rest of my protests on the thread for Fall 496 were a mix of dishonest hypocrisy and wishful thinking. Mostly hypocrisy. Had I been the GM, I certainly would have yielded the same end result, as the rules do clearly state the procedure for that sort of error.

Conclusion

All in all, an entertaining game. I took some risks that didn't pan out. I pushed myself to be more dishonest, and that didn't pan out either.

I absolutely deserved to lose this game, but I take some comfort in the fact that I was not alone in doing so.
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Re: Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

Postby BlueBorjigin » 25 Apr 2017, 00:05

Aeschines wrote:One possibility to fix this and generally provide a boon to the Empire, what if the Empire could choose one of the ~3 SCs that they are given, rather than having all three RNG'd? The minor that they select would be their "local capital" and their build site.

- Interesting idea. It'd further increase the incentive for Greek states to eliminate nearby neutrals in the first two years.
Aeschines wrote:Another possibility would be to have the Empire simply enter a year earlier. They would get more minors and generally hit while the other players were weaker.

- I don't think this'd be good. At 2 SCs/units, in 499 the Greek states have extremely minimal resources, generally not enough to defend or make interesting strategic plays. This stage of the game is about basic expansion and developing core infrastructure.
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Re: Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

Postby BlueBorjigin » 25 Apr 2017, 00:43

nopunin10did wrote:It was at this point that I decided I was no longer interested in winning the game. I just wanted to make sure that Aardvark did not win the game. To that end, I left my flank intentionally open and threw all of my units into reclaiming Ephesus (and other nearby SCs).
....
By the time GhostEcho burned the gates of Ephesus, however, I was really ready to be done with the game. The fact that I'd taken Byzantium in that fateful blunder of a turn made me feel that I rather deserved to just surrender to Ilium. It was still a better option than letting Aardvark get the upper hand again.

To clarify NoPun, did you
a) decide to all-in attack the Empire, hoping that Ilium wouldn't attack you, but accepting your northern vulnerability as a necessary evil in order to effectively attack south,
b) decide to both all-in attack the Empire and try to put Ilium in a winning position by leaving yourself open, intending not to defend if he attacked, but without messaging him an invite to do so, or
c) message Ilium with either a veiled or open suggestion that he take your SCs (and if so, during what season)?

nopunin10did wrote:I do believe that there needs to be a better way to label units. That is my real and honest opinion as a player and as a map designer. Having other regions' three-letter codes on the units themselves is a royal pain-in-the-ass, especially when those units can cover up the names of the regions they actually occupy.

I think part of this issue comes from the font and text size changes Aeschines experimented with through different iterations of the map. Consider the difference between these two versions, and the advantages that each has in terms of the unit size relative to the territory size, and the text legibility, text overlap, and image blurriness. IMO both iterations have pros and cons, but some features that were designed to work well with the earlier version, like the size and placement of unit names, need to be tweaked to mesh well with the other changes.
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Re: Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 25 Apr 2017, 01:20

It was 90% option A, 10% option B. I did not intentionally hand over my SCs, but I also just worked under the assumption that defending that direction would undermine my efforts in the other.

I expected Ilium might take advantage after the Empire was neutralized, but GhostEcho moved against me about a year or so earlier than I thought.
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Re: Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

Postby Don Juan of Austria » 27 Apr 2017, 10:40

First off, thanks Aeschines for running another GREAT game of Greek City States for a THIRD time! :D Also, thank you all those who played a part in this game, and sticking it out for a smooth game (except for the reinstallation of the Spartan government...), and for the entertaining AARs so far. :)

As some of you may recall, I played Thebes (Red), which I was quite happy about as it had been my max bid. I pretty much chose Thebes because it has a nice corner to expand into, and I didn't particularly want to be the Empire (I had a bad experience :P ), or a power on the eastern side of the Aegean. Sparta has in the past, had several max bids, so I ended up going for Thebes.

The game begins, and the Empire (AardvarkArmy) writes a message that sends chills down the spines of all true Greeks...or something like that. It was a petition for an ally to join him, sent to each of us City States. I felt like I might as well ally to the Empire as best I can, as it won't cost me much early on, and perhaps I can get some of his DPs for my own use and some information. I rather liked the fact that the Empire wrote us all first, because to me, it was a message that would help unify the Greeks. Halicarnassus wrote his fellow City States with the idea that we stick together to face the coming Empire, and soon after, I proposed the Hegemony. We shared communications, and then elected our first Hegemon, GhostEcho/Ilium, to lead us for the next couple of years.

Things went smoothly until Sparta had a change in government, which was fine, though I'm not sure that the new Sparta received and read all the previous messages, which led to one of the reasons Athens and I attacked him later on.

Centers were picked up, and then the Empire arrived. I was rather relieved he was at the other corner of the map as the Egyptians, except for Apollonia, which I made sure to take care of.
Now that the East was busy with the Egyptians, Athens suggested we take out Sparta... In hindsight, I really shouldn't have, but rather probably should have scolded him for suggesting such a thing whilst being a part of the Hegemony. :mrgreen: Instead, I stupidly helped kill him, which I only got one center out of. I really should have thought through the scenario more before hand.
After that, Athens attacked me, and I was slowly whittled down to a couple of centers. When I was initially stabbed, I was hoping I could get Ilium to stab Athens in the Islands, but he instead attacked Ephesus, and then Athens covered his islands.

All in all, a fun game, though I envisioned it panning out a little differently. Next time. :twisted:
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Re: Greek City States: Game Conclusion and AARs

Postby AardvarkArmy » 28 Apr 2017, 08:14

Short AAR, because real-life is kicking my butt... and because the Empire really didn't DO much.

Simple summary:

1) I thought the very idea of the Empire was cool as heck, so I bid all out for it. I enjoyed the "where will he be attacking from" phase of the game most of all - great fun keeping all in suspense
2) I hadn't really considered the Empire concept deeply enough. More on that in a moment.
3) I deduces that the only player I could realistically ally with was Athens - in the center of the map, away from all edges, where he knew I was no threat to him.
4) My alliance with Athens was really the ONLY successful diplomacy I enjoyed. The muddled/muffled attempt to join forces with Ephesus... I will never divulge whether there ever really was a secret plan to work together! :P
5) In the end, I did not play well enough to win. Congrats fair and square to the victors. However...
6) I COMPLETELY agree with Athens' critique of the fatal flaws of the Empire. The offboard supply inflating my count to 7 or 8 served ONLY to frighten others and solidify a common front against me, while being of absolutely zero benefit to me if I couldn't find a way to convert then into actual units. It was an exceptionally frustrating game, to never be able to get off the ground.
7) I agree that there must be easier access to a build center. But I also question the need for the solo-only rule. As noted by Athens, by the time the Empire enters the game, they are not likely to be any larger/stronger than any other player. I think the solo requirement poses an insurmountable obstacle. Conversely, if this mysterious player whose location is unknown IS able to form real alliances that other players believe will last through to victory, the diplomacy could be off the charts fun and unpredictable.

My thoughts.

Great game everyone! and THANKS Aeschines & NanookTheEskimo for the hard work!
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