PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

After game reports for PlaDip Diplomacy League games

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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby jimbobicus » 20 Sep 2018, 09:06

Pootleflump wrote:My preference when playing France or Turkey is to form a bond with the other. They make perfect end game allies.

Consequently at the very beginning, you were my first message sent and I told you clearly that I thought we should be friends with an eye to the end game.

Your response was what steered my subsequent choices. You didn't like my communication style. You made that quite clear and my feeling was that you would ally with anyone on the board rather than me.

That was your downfall in this game.

It is not personality politics to keep your options open and be charming to everyone at the beginning. It was you that steered the course of the game. When you alienate powers it's easy to manipulate that dynamic.

Pootle, admittedly this game was a little while ago and our conversations were not the part of the game I remember best. But I'll give it as I recall...

I can't remember your opening messages too well but I'm happy to believe you did say that. But from my point of view, in 1901, I'm hearing that kind of thing from everyone and as you indeed hint at, you're no doubt wooing others in a similar way too. So I have no reason to believe this is anything more than cheap talk. But as I recall, I responded positively in kind and we had cordial (or better) conversations for the first few years. Indeed at some point I remember receiving a message from you saying something like "Is it too soon to say I have a Turkish boyfriend?" After being admin-surrendered by nanook, I don't have the messages, but I'm sure you could confirm that - and I guess that was in 1903 or so? This points to the fact I was willing to play along at least at the start. Although I was a little wary of you - I actually found that line a bit creepy personally. I was also suspicious when you showed me a game in which you had turned down a solo to take a 2 way draw, presumably to establish a reputation for yourself as a carebear. As someone who really dislikes carebearism and would have also preferred the identities remain anonymous, this did annoy me a little. Although I'm sure it wasn't your intention to annoy and I try not to let feelings of being annoyed affect my gameplay too much anyway.

Then in what I'd guess to be around 1904 we had a bit of a bust up when out of nowhere you accused me of leaking messages or other intel. I never leaked any of your messages, and furthermore, anyone who has ever played with me and knows me will confirm that I don't leak. So I'm not sure where that accusation came from? From that point on, it is fair to say that relations between us weren't great and I accept much responsibility for that. I did respond quite strongly to your accusations of leaking and after that I generally put in my effort to talking to England and Germany rather than yourself. Also based on board position, I felt that England was my most natural ally, rather than yourself. But having said all of this, if you had been interested in an alliance, then at any point, that would have been very well-received. While you did rub me up the wrong way (as I probably did to you too), I wouldn't let this stand in the way of us allying if there was a deal to be done. Perhaps I should have not told you when you did things that I thought dishonest or annoyed me? Although I took the attitude that it's best to be honest there. Perhaps I should have done more to make it clear that I don't hold grudges and would still have been very willing to ally with you, but I'm not sure how much difference that would have made?

Also, at what point were you interested in a France/Turkey alliance? Because I didn't really see much signs of that.
1. Your opening choice of a western triple is certainly not what I'd like to see as Turkey - your units are positioned to attack me next after Italy.
2. Even in the first few years when we were getting on well, from what I remember about your messages, there wasn't much or any discussion of the board or specific plans - just pleasantries. (Although please correct me if I mis-remember).
But anyway, you also had Germany and England wrapped around your little finger so you didn't have any reason to ally with me when you could play the game just as you did and solo.

Pootleflump wrote:V didn't play badly. He is a brilliant tactician, a fab communicator and good company. It was a hugely successful western triple and taking that to the end was a reality for all three of us at one point.

That depends on your perspective. I'd say he played very well for the Western triple but not so well for Germany. From the point of going down the Western triple route - especially that Western triple route, I think defeat was always his most likely outcome. I'm sure the hope of French/English carebearism (which I expect you worked hard to enforce in his mind) would have given him the feeling of having a shot at a 3 way, but I think that's about the best you can say for his prognosis. Board-wise his position got worse pretty much every year.

As for "a fab communicator and good company", I did see glimpses of this. But I think it depends how V feels about you. If he likes you then sure. But if he doesn't, he can be a foul-mouthed bully as we've seen here.
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby Pootleflump » 20 Sep 2018, 10:32

I suppose the point is that your communication style didn't endear you to anyone. There are plenty PP spats between you and England, and you and Germany.

It's easy for people to use those kinds of dynamics to alienate people further.
But, I nearly forgot, you must close your eyes otherwise you won't see anything

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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby mjparrett » 20 Sep 2018, 15:10

I think Pootle makes a very good point above. JimB your style seems to annoy some people (as I'm sure do plenty of others that isn't just me singling you out). A clever player will take advantage of that and twist things to suit them and make you out to be even more the bad guy. That is what appears to have happened in this game, and I think was your downfall. I agree with your theory of play the board. But you must also realise the interaction and personality does come into it. And if you don't acknowledge that then I think you are playing a slightly different game to a lot of people and it will be to your detriment.

Even the "honesty is the best policy" approach you take. Again sometimes it is. Some people will appreciate that. But some people won't and you need to know when to use it and when not to. The best diplomacy players I have seen/played with tailor their approach to the board. This might be an unfair comment but you seem quite rigid with your style of play. You will have plenty of games (and obviously have, you are a very good player) where it works. But there are some players that won't appreciate your tone and then want to attack you EVEN IF THAT ISN'T THE BEST PLAY FOR THAT GAME. You might take the high ground and think they are mad for attacking you purely based on message content and style when clearly allying with you would be better strategically. But it does happen, and will continue to do so. So I think you should learn to accept it, and try and vary your style a little.

I hope this doesn't sound smug or preachy. I don't say any of the above because I think I have mastered it. I certainly haven't and have plenty to learn about this game. But it is probably easier on the outside looking in to help someone with their gameplay rather than improve your own. So the above is meant with the best will in the world.

As for your other point, there have been many threads on this, but yes, I genuinely do feel there is an optimal opening for 5/7 countries. Only when I play as England and Turkey do I have much less a preference who to attack first. Now of course as you point out, my moves as A depend on the the plans I think B and C are up to. But will most countries I will be doing my hardest to make B and C do what I want anyway. That might include real leaking, fake leaking, lies, or just honest pleas. But I really do think there are certain obvious opponents for some countries (not moves because they could still be different, but certainly obvious enemies).

For example I am convinced as Italy you should open against France. I appreciate a lot of people disagree with me. But if I draw Italy that is my start point and what I want to make happen before i have spoken to anyone. But then the personality comes into it. If I really "like" France (as you say of course I don't actually know them, but like the style of writing and I build a rapport) AND Austria is a foul mouthed twat waffle... well I don't play the board (which screams attack France!) and I attack Austria instead.

Does that make sense? Maybe we could continue this by PM, as I do genuinely like discussing opening strategy...
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby jimbobicus » 21 Sep 2018, 09:59

mjparrett: thanks for your feedback and I think there is a lot of sense in what you say.

The ironic thing is, this game I made a big attempt not to alienate people, having had people point out that I had done this in the previous games. I did break this with Pootle in what I'd guess was around 1903/4 when she falsely accused me of leaking intel (still no idea where that accusation came from. It was false and I thought we got on ok before that). I was also annoyed by some of her other tactics: the messages of flirting and just purely playing personality politics, not even talking about the board, and also referencing her previous games to try to build up a reputation for carebearism. On top of this, she had been less than honest about her moves. So at that point, I did give her a bit of a piece of my mind. Although I tried to do so in a way that I was criticising her tactics rather than her personally. At that stage after the first few years of trying to play "nicely-nicely" with her and seeing it wasn't getting me anywhere - in fact quite the opposite, I also felt that it was worth attempting a different approach. But looking back this was probably a mistake.

With England and Germany, I felt I had very polite and well-mannered discussions up until the point that they stabbed me 5 or 6 years into the game. Although with Germany I always felt something was a bit off about him. His strategy throughout didn't make any sense and I was aware we had fallen out in the game in round 2 and while I was quite happy to let bygones be bygones and preferably play the game without even knowing others' identity, I wasn't sure he was. He'd also revealed his identity very early and made it his mission to go round guessing everyone else's too.
England was the person I felt I had the best relations with until then. Board-wise, I felt he was my perfect ally and I was his. Message-wise I thought we were getting on well and we had made concrete plans for a 2 way alliance with the idea of attempting a 2 way draw, with possibilities of one of us soloing. To me in games like this, that's the ideal for both players involved. For my part, I was being entirely honest in my conversations with him and had every intention of sticking to the plans. Then ka-boom... immediately after making some quite detailed plans which I felt were very good for him, he stabs me. When I ask him very politely "why" he says something like "Haha. You are so stupid. I never had any intention of allying with you. I was just playing you until Western Triple got over the stalemate line. You are going to get nothing from this game. You might as well quit now."
I couldn't believe it - firstly that is so different from how would ever play the game. But also just the level of abuse from someone I felt I had got on well with up until that point. Unfortunately England isn't around to give his side of the story. But if mhsmith is around and has access to the messages, he can hopefully confirm whether I'm giving a fair representation of what was said (it was a while ago so memory fades but I think I am - that rather stuck with me.)

Not long after that, there was a poem posted anonymously in PP by one of EFG saying how wonderful they all were and how horrid I was. Again, I felt this was rather unnecessary - I've frequently made the point that we don't really know the first thing about one another. We're all just people playing semi-anonymously online. To form these strong likes and dislikes and to attack other players' personality in this way is just uncalled for. There were also many other signs of the cliquiness between EFG and the comments here in the AAR - like V saying they gave me the title "twat waffle" just compound this. To be honest at this point, I felt rather bullied and it just was not a pleasurable experience to be in the game. Added to which, I have a very strong dislike of this whole personality politics way of playing. This led me to the conclusion that I wanted out and I posted that I had asked mjparrett to find me a replacement. And that's when the real abuse (especially from Germany) started reigning down in PP. Again to me, this was just so unnecessary... at that time, I was on the way out - what's the point of picking a fight? Also, if they disliked me that much, they should welcome the prospect of playing with a new player who they might get on with better. Unfortunately from the point of view of a peaceful game, a replacement was not to be found at that time. So the whole saga dragged on a bit as did the argument - during which time it's fair to say I properly engaged with Germany in what was a bit of an ugly affair in PP. But for the most part, I don't think I was the instigator here.

As a sidenote, the game did finally get a new Turkey. I don't know mhsmith personally and don't know how well or badly he played, but it's worth noting he had no more success than I did. Board-wise he entered the game under a bit of pressure but all told not in too bad a position - it would certainly take quite a while for the western powers to eliminate him and indeed this didn't happen.
Rather the game ended with Pootle stabbing for the solo. But surely we can all look from the outside (just looking at the moves) and ask what England and Germany were playing at? Germany all game! Normally when a player's position deterioates it's because things don't work as planned - most notably when people stab you. For your position to deterioate year after year as a a result of the game following your own plan is really quite special!
While England, having been in such a great position in 1905/6 to chuck things away like that.... But this is what this whole personality politics thing does... people stop looking at the board and thinking logically.
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby jimbobicus » 21 Sep 2018, 10:14

mjparrett wrote:As for your other point, there have been many threads on this, but yes, I genuinely do feel there is an optimal opening for 5/7 countries. Only when I play as England and Turkey do I have much less a preference who to attack first. Now of course as you point out, my moves as A depend on the the plans I think B and C are up to. But will most countries I will be doing my hardest to make B and C do what I want anyway. That might include real leaking, fake leaking, lies, or just honest pleas. But I really do think there are certain obvious opponents for some countries (not moves because they could still be different, but certainly obvious enemies).

For example I am convinced as Italy you should open against France. I appreciate a lot of people disagree with me. But if I draw Italy that is my start point and what I want to make happen before i have spoken to anyone. But then the personality comes into it. If I really "like" France (as you say of course I don't actually know them, but like the style of writing and I build a rapport) AND Austria is a foul mouthed twat waffle... well I don't play the board (which screams attack France!) and I attack Austria instead.

Does that make sense? Maybe we could continue this by PM, as I do genuinely like discussing opening strategy...

Happy to carry on this conversation. Perhaps a forum topic would be better than PM though? Easier to follow and see previous posts and that way plus gives others a chance to contribute if they choose to.

I can see from this we have very different opinions on opening strategy. Although that it was after all what would make such a conversation interesting. I'd be interested to hear your opinions for F,G,R,A. For each I play relatively flexibly. Sure I have some openings I prefer to others but none that I think always clearly, unambiguously best regardless or what is happening elsewhere on the map. And for each country, I could come up with deals which if different neighbours offered, I would probably accept.

As for Italy wanting to attack France... you are obviously rather at odds with conventional wisdom. Very few games you see on this site start that way. Indeed of Italy's 3 options (F,A,T) I think it is fair to say that this is the least common. However, this is not an argument against what you say - merely me putting it into the context of how most games are played. I would be interested to hear your justifications for this. Personally, I would agree that the attack France option is probably under-used and can see some benefits of it. But that's a long way from saying that it's a clearly best strategy... but I'm willing to be persuaded ;)
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby mjparrett » 22 Sep 2018, 10:08

I'm going to ignore your first post. I wasn't in the game and have nothing to add... your second post however (and yes feel free to move to a separate thread although I do believe it has been done plenty before)

E - I am flexible. And just very happy to be England. Personality politics all the way from here, genuine no board preference in attacking F or G. Maybe marginally I am more worried about France doing well, although conversely I think it is easier to ally with France to remove Germany, then stab France. But I really am easy.

F/G - as both of these powers I am constantly worried about England behind me. So before a dice is rolled and message sent, I want England dead. Only the personality of the play (and what I think they are up to of course) will change my decision. But if I KNEW I was the smoothest guy on the board and people would believe me/do what I say.... then England is done for.

The east is exactly the same. As Turkey I don't mind. Either way. As Russia or Austria (ESPECIALLY Austria), all I can see is this Turkish menace just sitting there. Kill the Turk! For Austria this is compounded that I firmly believe you should never open against Italy (unless again you know EXACTLY what everyone else is doing).

Italy. As you say I appreciate I don't follow the conventional wisdom. I know France is the least trodden path. But I just think attacking Austria is madness. All you do is encourage a juggernaut. And as much as Turkey with those fleets look menacing, I think the Lepanto is a bit "tired". It takes a long time, fairly easy to defend against, and Italy probably gains least than other powers. And by the time it finally is done you have France invading you (or England). Boom. Rather, I put my best diplomacy to Austria and convince him that they need to be best friends. Then I really try and make sure A/R ally to kill the Turk (as I don't want those Turkish fleets with nowhere to go). And I hit France hard. My only experience on this site (one completed game and one active so I won't say much) has followed this path and both worked well initially. The mid/end game gets tricky, but as pure opening strategy goes I think it is very good. I'm not sure if I want to make this the adopted opening of Italy (and therefore justify my decision!) or if I want to keep it to myself and retain the element of surprise....
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby jimbobicus » 23 Sep 2018, 09:41

Mike, as sub-forum moderator I'll leave it up to you whether to start a new thread or leave here etc

It's interesting how everyone has different views on opening theory. Although having said this we do have quite a few similarities.

England: I'm with you on this. I'm pretty flexible too. If I make an ally with either F or G, I'm happy and like my position. Which is preferred depends on Russia... If France and Russia are likely to be people who might look to ally later in the game (as I believe they should) then it means Germany is clearly best ally. However you generally see far fewer across board alliances like R/F than we should due to personality politics - and as long as RF don't both attack you at the same time you are ok... So with this in mind, EF is usually pretty safe and gives England a great position for stabbing France later in the game.
Also attacking Russia as was done here as part of WT... puts England in a fantastic position. Although personally I'm often scared to go for it, in case FG are trying to send you that way to open you up for a stab. But if FG genuinely want a WT as they did in this game, it's awesome for England. I know this game ended a French solo but that was IMO due to some very questionable English play in the 2nd half of the game. The English position between 1902 & 1905 was terrific.

France: that's the country I think has closest thing to clear best opening and should attack England.

Germany: I'd be flexible. I think any of EG vs F, EG vs FR, FGR vs E, FG vs ER can work well. I'd also look at the implications for elsewhere on the board. If there's anything I can do to make Italy strong and endear myself to him, I do that. I/G are very natural partners in the midgame. They'll have the same neighbours to fight and unless one or both are idiots, should never be fighting each other.

Turkey: we have similar thoughts - any alliance is good.
Russia: just due to practicality of opening moves I prefer kill the Turk to juggernaut. But if one can overcome difficulties of fleets in Ank an Sev then I think the jugg can be great for Russia.

Austria: here we differ. I really like playing Austria - its my favourite country and I see much to be gained by an A/T alliance. If you have doubts about one or both of R/I then its great as with good moves A/T can beat R/I. As long as things are properly negotiated with Turkey then I think this makes Austria surprisingly safe. Eg clauses like Turkey builds just fleets; Austria only armies. In 1902/3, Turkish army in Bul is replaced by fleet Bul SC then allowing Serbia DMZ. Although I also think all other alliances can work well for Austria too. If I survive the first couple of years, Austria is a superb country to play.

Italy: (the main focus of your post)
I can understand the idea of a Lepanto - Turkey looks a bit frightening in the midgame otherwise. But as you say this can often be slow and while it has had some success, it's the most trodden path and has had many more failures. Also if you expect A/R vs T, then there's no reason to pile in on Turkey too and in those circumstances I like your attack France idea. For me it all depends how you'd expect things to go elsehwere. My way of playing Italy would be to cosy up to Russia and Germany as these are your best long term alliance options. See what each of them want you to do. If you can make them strong (especially Germany) then even if you don't get off to a flyer yourself then you'll always be in decent shape and have a playable board as your neighbours will fear them instead of fight you. In general, I'd be less pro-Austrian than you are for fear of just being Austria's butler for the rest of the game :)
So to conclude... yes there are certainly circumstances when I would advocate Italy attack France (eg an expectation of EF vs G, AR vs T) but what I'd do is highly dependent on what I expect to happen elsewhere. Also I don't think attacking Austria is necessarily madness - especially if you have good relations with Russia. But it's certainly not a decision that should be taken lightly and as you say you need to have confidence that a jugg won't form.
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby jimbobicus » 23 Sep 2018, 19:28

To answer mjparrett more directly: I can think of examples when I don't think Italy attacking France is a good idea. Most notably:
1. If alliances elsewhere are FG vs E, RT vs A.
2. If France and Russia are countries who get on then an FRI alliance can be excellent for all involved.
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Re: PDL 1. Round 3 Game 3. AAR

Postby mhsmith0 » 24 Sep 2018, 20:52

jimbobicus wrote:To answer mjparrett more directly: I can think of examples when I don't think Italy attacking France is a good idea. Most notably:
1. If alliances elsewhere are FG vs E, RT vs A.
2. If France and Russia are countries who get on then an FRI alliance can be excellent for all involved.


I think as Italy, you basically NEED to have a solid alliance with Turkey or Russia in order to attack Austria.

I kinda feel like the optimal Italy early game diplomatic path is something like:

1) EGI against F - great for Italy early game, can grow in the west, can watch Austria hold off RT and you don't really need to help THAT much to see that bog down, and then as long as you aren't dealing with EG against you, you can pick whether to attack Austria or Turkey or go even harder in the west
2) IR (lots of options for a third friend) against Turkey. Works great as a reaction to EF if you can get Germany on board (an organized and cooperating GIR shuts down EF pretty hard), and you're probably gonna get to the point where IR can more or less pick who they want as the third, with plenty of realistic worlds where this turns into just IR 2-way draw.
3) IA against basically everyone. Austria can hold off RT with a bit of Italian help, Italy can hold off almost everyone with a friendly Austria to the east (unless France grows really quickly), plenty of room for this alliance to do well.
4) IR (probably best as FIR) against Austria. This probably works best when England and France are NOT friendly with each other (maybe something like FG against E)
5) IT against Austria. Here I think you need to be REALLY sure that Turkey will be turning on Russia and not you, since it's very much a path of least resistance for Turkey to go after you once Austria is dead or crippled.

I do think that IT can work, but both Italy and Turkey generally have different powers who they can work with more naturally, so you really need to work at it to make it work. Turkey needs to be full-on army builds (navies can go NOWHERE but through Italy), Italy needs to manage DMZ's so that Turkey doesn't need to build fleets, etc.
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