AAR 178231 – Quantum diplomacy

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AAR 178231 – Quantum diplomacy

Postby pompodopompom » 01 Sep 2020, 13:34

This is my feed-back of the game 178231 – Quantum diplomacy.

[this is actually an edited version]

It was only an unranked game (with anonymous countries), I never was a major power, it ended up in an 5-way draw with a stop-the-leader alliance, but there have been some many twists that I wanted to exchange about it.

I was playing Austria-Hungary. This was my very first game and, as such, it has been a succession of mistakes, particularly on the analysis, strategic and diplomatic sides. I learnt a lot throughout the game, lied more than I wanted to (often in response to blatant lies or what I perceived were blatant lies), decided 3 times to give up the game and proved several times more paranoid than necessary.
Wrong analysis of the board and absence of real communication with 2 key players also led me (but apparently others too) to make wrong decisions.
It also took a while before I realized that I totally overestimated the capacity of experienced players to read through the board, to maintain an efficient information network or to plan several steps ahead. Because of that I asked myself questions that were simply irrelevant or got too suspicious.


BRIEF CHRONOLOGY

I only present the Austro-Hungarian perspective here.
First of all, both Italy and I had been offered from the very beginning to take part in a Central Alliance with Germany against France and Russia, and in a Three-Tier Alliance with Russia against Turkey (and soon against Germany). For any reason, both Russia & Germany had heard about our double allegiance and were expecting us (well mainly me, being on the front line) to take side.

Stab against Russia (Fall of 1902)
In the East, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Italy had successfully ganged up against Turkey.
In the West, Russia (again), England and France had ganged up against Germany, with Russia already in full control of Scandinavia. In this set-up, I expected Austria-Hungary (me) and England to become after a couple of years the next designated victims.
As Russia, who seemed (to me) an experienced and dominant player, was pushing me to attack Germany in 1902, and warned about the imminent threat of an impossible to believe Anglo-French-German-Martian coalition, I, newbie, rather spontaneously chose to defend my alternative but soon-to-be-dying ally, Germany, and tried to change the dynamics at work by stabbing him. As a result, Turkey stayed in the game.
Would I do it again in a similar situation? I still have to think about it… There, I overestimated Germany’s capacity to survive and to negotiate with his neighbours, I underestimated the possibility of an ever growing French threat against Italy (which, from then on, has been for the rest of the game my best insurance against the Italian stab that France kept on warning me about) and I had no idea about what to do with Turkey afterwards.
After the stab, I presented my “analysis” (Germany/Turkey as first targets, England/Austria to be next) to England (who never responded) and to Turkey (who then offered me to betray Italy and was actually planning to take down both Italy and me).
I had hoped that England would step against Russia, and – with a declining Germany – dreamt of an Anglo-Italian-Austrian alliance to counter Russia and France. What I now wonder is if I hadn’t exposed my analysis to two members of an Anglo-French-Turkish alliance… would be funny! (though… as far as I understood, apart from France, England kept a radio silence with most of the players during most of the game).

Blockade around the Dardanelles (Spring 1903 - Fall 1904)
I still consider it a cool idea, though it hasn’t delivered any result and frustrated Turkey for 2 years.
To make it short, I accepted Turkey’s offer to betray Italy and planned instead with Italy to take advantage of a regional DMZ-Agreement (allegedly aiming at appeasing Italy before the stab) to unexpectedly lock up the whole Anatolia with an Austrian fleet & an Italian army.
This unorthodox solution had the advantage of diverting the Turkish threat in the Eastern Mediterranean and of forcing Turkey to consider its only perspective of expansion: going North, on the Russian territory. Intertwining Italian and Austro-Hungarian efforts in the blockade (though mobilising 3 units) also forced both of us to keep on working together and having to think twice before stabbing the other.
It could even have worked against Russia. Had England - who had a really good shot at becoming the most promising power - considered moving to a totally empty Scandinavia, Russia would have gone down to 2 centres rather quickly. But England had other plans, or preferred to wait for their time to come. In any case, they waived their build for a second, then a third consecutive year, and only attacked Scandinavia 3 year later, once the blockade was, ironically, lifted (and the map shows how England was right). In the meantime, Russia could mobilize its forces on its Southern front, Turkey never had the opportunity to attack Moscow and I started to lose ground in Central Europe.

Lift of the blockade (Spring 1905)
That was a huge mistake.
Untill the fall of 1904, I had thought England was playing a really good diplomatic game, letting Russia and France expand (and even helping France), waiving their build in order not to appear to dangerous for their allies, who in return could without much risk support this inoffensive England to get a few centres. Inoffensive but still with a good shot at Norway, Sweden & St. Petersburg.
But after England waived a build for the third consecutive year (and declined 3 additional units), and kept on not considering to invade an empty Scandinavia, even though they had absolutely no other possibility to expand, I concluded to an unbreakable Anglo-French-Russian alliance. And I even suspected a cheat, because (so I thought) in such an alliance, England would have no chance to expand, contrary to France and Russia who were already both successful. Italy shared my doubts. How wrong were we…
We reached out to Turkey and offered to counter the 3 Western-Northern powers, lifted the blockade and I supported an unbeatable Turkish move against Moscow.
I assume that Turkey knew that there was absolutely no Alliance between Russia and the 2 others, and/or simply did not believe us, and/or could not resist to the temptation of a sweet revenge.
In any case it backlashed immediately. After a year under Turkish, Russian and French efforts, I went down to 2 centres and Italy lost 2 centres to Turkey.
Ironically, England build their missing units at the end of the year 1905 and proceeded to attack Scandinavia…

Renewed cooperation with Russia (Spring 1907 – Fall 1907)
And then, another wrong analysis! But this time we were 3, Russia, Italy and I, who got lost by Turkey’s intuitive style of play.
For any reason, France and Russia had decided, or could not avoid any longer, to fight one another before finishing me off. What did trigger the Russian attack on Munich at this point in time? I thought you could have cleaned up half of the board before fighting each other.
Anyway, Turkey, who was occasionally working with Russia, still had the opportunity to slowly but surely take - without much opposition - several Italian and Austro-Hungarian centres.
But on a quiet Sunday morning, the Sultan decided to surprise us all and flew the Ottoman flag over an undefended Kremlin. I will let Turkey comment their decision, but it led Russia, Italy and I to erroneously believe that France/England (then progressing in Scandinavia) and Turkey (then in Moscow) had decided to ally and take control of the game.
So, Russia reluctantly agreed to work with us, as much as it did not interfere with their own defensive moves. And did really help to delay the Turkish progression in Bulgaria or, even better, to take Marseilles from France.
One year later, Russia dealt with Turkey the retrocession of their national centres and in the Spring of 1908 stopped cooperating or even answering, leaving us dealing with Turkey and focusing on their own problems.

Alliance with Turkey (Spring 1909 till the end)
What Russia did not know, is that Turkey and I were in 1908 intensively exchanging again, among other things about the threat of an English solo, about whether “finishing off Russia” or supporting them as a buffer zone against England, and of course… about betraying Italy.
This time, I was the one not believing him, and this time I was wrong. I managed to convinced myself, based on true facts that he shared in his messages, that Turkey was manipulating me and was aiming at my centres. Having nothing to lose, I lied (again…) about betraying Italy and opted for a kamikaze option, ending - to my surprise - with the destruction of the Turkish fleet in Albania.
Then after my apologies, Turkey has been intelligent enough not to give up, and we worked together to move North towards Moscow, Warsaw and Munich and to consolidate a stalemate line against England, now substituted with a really experienced player.


KEY PLAYERS AND ALLIANCES

Globally speaking, I retrospectively sup up the game as following. Please react when it’s wrong or incomplete.
.France and England were objective allies (by this I mean that they soon had a common interest in working together)
.Italy and Austria were also objective allies, but mostly for survival reasons and failed at finding/keeping a 3rd ally
.England was the main beneficiary of the early fall of Germany, of the early Austrian stab against Russia and the subsequent deal in Scandinavia, and of the Russian attack against France
.Russia grew too early & too fast. After I stabbed them in 1902, they managed to negotiate a temporary non-agression agreement with England, but were basically kind of diplomatically isolated during the whole game. In these conditions, it is already an achievement that they survived till 1911.
.Ironically, the only two playdip friends, France and Turkey, had been trying to work together during most of the game, but ended up in opposite alliances. And the 2 alliances that lasted from the beginning till the end, England/France and Italy/Austria (both briefly suspected to be double accounts), had never played with one another before.

England:
Between 1903 & 1905, England was for me the country with the best potential and had (I guess) the difficult task to decide when was best to attack Russia in Scandinavia:
a) too late, and Russia would have rebuilt some strength and be in a position to defend Scandinavia.
b) too early, and England would become too obviously strong and might have jeopardized their chance of soloing.
c) it was maybe also interesting for them to wait and see if Russia could take one player down (me). And if Austria-Hungary had fallen, Italy wouldn’t have survived long under French and Turkish assaults. All that would have kept 5 powers busy fighting one another, while England had free hands to expand.
This is all speculation, but I think the solution came from:
-France having progressed to Munich/Bohemia/Silesia in 1904 and being in a position to fight Russia, solving a)
-Austria-Hungary and Italy unwisely lifting the blockade around Turkey in 1905, enabling c)

Austria-Hungary and Italy
I understand from the very last message I had received that Italy’s reluctance to stab me during the 4 or 5 first years (and the other way around) was too unlikely and often looked suspicious. In my eyes, it was our unique chance to survive.
Italy was under French threat, Austria-Hungary under Russian threat, none of us could really afford letting Turkish fleets enter the Mediterranean, England had switched onto mute, Germany was dead and Houston didn’t respond either. We indeed missed a 3rd ally to hope being on the winning side, but in order to stab one another, we needed assurances that the potential new ally was a reliable one.
I don’t exactly know how Italy saw Russia’s repetitive requests to stab me, but on my side, France’s and Turkey’s offers were simply too unrealistic (sometimes you lied really too bad, or the timing was not good).
The only moment you really made us hesitate, is the only moment you did not lie: Russia was lobbying France to declare a cease-fire with Italy, was lobbying Italy to stab me, and none of us two was in a position to expand anymore on the board. But then, France lacked a bit of patience: one little step back, and before we could even consider that the cease-fire was not a bluff, built a new fleet in Marseilles.

France and Turkey
.France did form a rather successful alliance with England, in spite of several incoherent support orders from England, mainly after 1906. France only went into trouble when Russia started fighting them, and things turned really bad when Italy, Russia and Austria briefly managed to work together again [if the Turkish move to Moscow in 1906 ever was a reaction to the Russian attack against France in Munich, then it triggered an even worse result for France, who lost Marseilles one year later under our international attack].
.For any reason, Turkey & Russia could not coordinate efficiently enough to rapidly take Austria down.
.Similarly, Turkey working with England from 1907 on would have been deadly for most of us. But it did not happen.
.What I want to point at (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that Turkey and France might have focused too much on trying to work together, at seizing those 12 tempting supply centres in the middle of the board, and missed one or two alternative opportunities to turn the game at the advantage of one (or even both) of the two.


COMMUNICATION
If both Turkey (for at least the 1st half of the game) and France found that I had a “poor attitude”, there should be good reasons and I need to reconsider my communication (if not more). As for the “questionable decisions”, at least I am the one trying to review the game.
Fact is:
.I helped Italy to gain most of their supply centres and, in at least 3 occasions, offered Turkey a Russian national centre on a plate. Each time at my suggestion. In return, I have asked for almost nothing. In order to benefit from such a poor attitude, one simply needs to behave and communicate like a reliable ally, which first Italy and lately Turkey understood.
.yes, I stabbed Russia in 1902. For good or bad reasons, I did not trust him, and even now, I still wonder if I stood a chance in our alliance.
.Italy and I did corner Turkey in 1903. The facts and post-game correspondence proved that it was well inspired and should be called “self-defence”.
.I did not believe a word of the French lies between 1902 & 1904. Again, the facts and subsequent correspondence proved me right.
.and yes, I can only admit that I’ve been too suspicious, even paranoid, against Turkey in 1908.

@Italy: our Alliance has been my very first priority and it lasted till the end. Even in 1904 (when we had our own “missile crisis” and were both pondering over switching to other alliances), we communicated transparently, and I think, communicated really good. Thanks, mate, for being so easy going and having shared your experience during the whole game.

@Russia: if someone can legitimately complain about my behaviour, it is you, and I hope some of my explanations can help to understand.

@Turkey: we had an awful start, got really antagonistic, but in the end, I am glad that you came back to me and enjoyed our exchanges and co-operation (again thanks for having been clever enough after I destroyed your Albania fleet out of totally misplaced mistrust). And I’m happy to have seen your good side.


I'm really curious to read the perspective of other players, but feel stupid being the only one to write about this game. Was it so bad? Or am I the only one not being currently struggling with real life? Or are you all already busy with other games?
Speaking of normal life reclaiming its rights, this is my last contribution. I will surely not play again in 2020, and still wonder if I should consider it in the future. In any case, Diplomacy is one the best games I’ve played, but it’s not for everybody. Or not on a constant basis.

Have fun, and thanks again for the game,

mit besten Grüßen

Im Auftrag des Kaisers von Österreich und Apostolischen Königs von Ungarn
Last edited by pompodopompom on 07 Oct 2020, 22:06, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: AAR 178231 – Quantum diplomacy

Postby grogburg » 06 Sep 2020, 21:41

Nice write-up! This is my strangest game so far, though I am also a relative newbie. I don't have much more to add by way of theorizing than I already did in game! I would be interested in the Turkish/Russian/French thoughts in particular.

Ciao
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Re: AAR 178231 – Quantum diplomacy

Postby FloridaMan » 07 Oct 2020, 21:31

Congratulations on an interesting first game! From your reporting, it feels like there were a lot of shifting alliances in this one, which I think is perhaps more common with newbie games.

It sounds like you had a good time, so I hope you'll take this experience as motivational, to get you to play more games and hone your skills.

I imagine you'll find you move very quickly along the learning curve, so that you'll get a more triumphant conclusion in the near future.
Check Out My Diplomacy YouTube Channel!
Or My Diplomacy Blog
Or Patreon

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Re: AAR 178231 – Quantum diplomacy

Postby pompodopompom » 14 Oct 2020, 09:26

Well thanks a lot!
It is always encouraging when an active contributor and respected player takes the time to read and comment.
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Re: AAR 178231 – Quantum diplomacy

Postby pepega_clap » 13 Jan 2021, 16:48

Dear Austria and all the other participants and readers,

this game took place about half a year ago, so memories might be not as bright. I will answer by following chornologically what Mr. Pompodopompom provided us with in his initial feedback.

I want to start with the fact that I am not an experienced player at all and after taking part in about 10 games, in the end this one was my favourite by far.

I was playing as Turkey in this game, which is actually my curse (was randomly selected to play as Turkey in half of my games, including the one I am participating in at the moment). I already had some experience playing as Turkey, but as Austria has mentioned in his message, my experience was moslty "intuitive" gameplay, so it didn't help much.

1) Stab against Russia (Fall of 1902)
In the beginning of the game, I was trying to find an ally to work with. I have contacted or was contacted by every player in the game (as far as I remember). The first alliance I was invited into was the "Anti-Russa" and consisted of Germany and Austria and, of course, Italy. I am saying "of course" because an "Anti-Russa" alliance was actually...

2) Blockade around the Dardanelles (Spring 1903 - Fall 1904)
...an "Anti-Turka" blockade in my capitals with "only perspective of expansion: going North, on the Russian territory". Little did Austia know that there was always a second option - successfully holding my centers and negotiating with Russia, France and England(no response, explained later) to combine forces against a triple alliance in the central Europe. In the end, it worked out...

3) Lift of the blockade (Spring 1905)
...I kept my good relationships with Russia and also kept all of my centers. When the time was right, I stroke back and was able to retake some of the centers from Italian/Austrian occupation. I was cooperating with Russia on taking back what's mine and persuading Russia to continue moving West. At the same time, France was growing as well, and Enlgand were not participating in the game, which cause a domination of Russia and France. I might not recall the situation completely, but according to map and orders it was a success...

4) Renewed cooperation with Russia (Spring 1907 – Fall 1907)
...until the moment Russia betrayed France for no reason whatsoever. From all the games I played, this decision remains an unsolved mistery for me (after a discussion with France - they did not understand the betrayal as well). Two main powers at the time start fighting while two minor powers with an unbreakable (obvious by that time) alliance were still alive. An then my army appear in Moscow. Austria mentions that "Russia, Italy and I, who got lost by Turkey’s intuitive style of play" - I can understand how it looked from their side. My reasoning was the following: France and Russia were equally powerful and useful to me. But Russia acted aggressively without any reason or explanation. I could only extrapolate that behaviour on myself and expect them doing the same to me, sooner or later. Unlike my relationship with France, I had a direct border with Russia, therefore a lever of influence on them. That is the reason I moved to Moscow - I took their capital center, limiting their building abilities to two centers, and menacing the rest. I did that to be able to negotiate from a position of power and to limit their uncontrollable progress. More than that, the negotiations with them were awkward and unsettling from the very beginning, unlike negotiations with France or England (even one message from them contained more sense, politeness and wish to cooperate than whole dialogue with Russia). But, such policy from my side only switched Russian attention to me. And the moment couldn't be worse - England built all the missing units, and then after explaining his passive behaviour and finding a replacement, was replaced by a new general (fun fact - person replacing England in that game is actually my ally in the game I am playing right now, hello Italy if you read this). In the end, I can say that the plan was ruined by a human factor, or maybe was not good at all from the beginning.

5) Alliance with Turkey (Spring 1909 till the end)
That was a desperate move from my side. I still was a bit frustrated by the way Austria was communicating. To ellaborate on that - some things were too straightforward or blunt for my taste. That could be seen even in the feedback in the first message of this forum topic. In the end, I had nothing better to do than to contact Austria and to propose collaboration against Russia. Since my goal was to survive and participate in a winning draw, I did what I had to. That is why I looked away from the Albania betrayal and kept cooperating with Austria - I could see England rising up with it's new commandor and we had no chance to win, only thing we could do is build a stalemate line and force a big draw. So... we reached that point in the very end.

Alliances analysis:
I cannot say much on that behalf. The only "alliance" this game had was actually Italy and Austria. It was so hard to explain and so unbreakable that it motivated me to play next game as Austria and try to perform the same alliance. I did and it worked nicely - thank you for a great example. Fun fact - game has ended in a 5way draw as well, I guess it's my destiny.
Temporary collaboration that France and Russia had finished in a weird stab which caused the game to have a drastic switch in direction. If Russia was a bit more confident in himself or in France and waited for 1-2 more years until Austria and Italy are gone, who knows how this game would turn up to be?
England actually dictated the whole game. I am still amazed by how much they could influence the global situation by their build and decisions.
My cooperation with France and Russia was the same as cooperation with Austria and Italy - a forced way to stay alive and be in a final draw. I did not want to participate in a Juggernaut strategy, since it feels so boring and anyway would not be possible with this particular Russia player. In case Russia and Austria were able to cooperate together efficiently for the same 1-2 years, I would be a goner for sure.

Communication analysis:
In the end, I was happy by the communication in this game. Even if I did not like the form, I highly appreciated the amount and stability of discussions and the fact that all of the players were answering (apart of England, but at least we have learned the reason). My further games were not as generous in that regard.

In the end, I would like to repeat myself that this game is still my favourite one out of those I've had so far. I am still puzzled by stability of Italian/Austrian alliance (that caused me to think about them being a double-account), I am confused by Russian decisions and disappointed by how inefficient my Moscow plan turned out to be, I am amuzed by how England was dictating the game development and I am thankful to France for discussions and sharing the point of view on some game moments.

I migh as well edit it later, because the thought might be going into wrong places sometimes and reading might be hard.
Writing this was a good reflection on the game and I apologize for taking too long to do so.

Sincerely yours,
Turkey
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