AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

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AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby mhsmith0 » 10 Nov 2018, 01:53

Game 2 https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play ... _id=149023
FRANCE condude1
AUSTRIA mhsmith0 (SOLO WIN)

Game 1 https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play ... _id=148947
FRANCE mhsmith0 (SOLO WIN)
AUSTRIA condude1


As promised, below is my AAR for the finals round against condude. Like I did for my previous tourney AAR, I’m running “simultaneous” commentary on the two games I was playing in. For each phase, top/left photo is my Austria game, bottom/right photo is my France game (and boy oh boy were the two games different)
Also: early on I’ll reference captainmeme’s excellent overview of opening strategy, at https://captainmeme.wordpress.com/2017/ ... -openings/ (stuff like “anti-Alpine, “Swiss Split”, etc all come from him). He also discusses the Austrian Rush (or one variant of it) at https://captainmeme.wordpress.com/2018/ ... rian-rush/, which is very relevant for my Austrian game.
And finally, good reading in terms of stalemate lines: http://uk.diplom.org/pouch/Zine/S2001M/ ... Draws.html
In particular, the Versailles / Main Stalemate line is extremely relevant for this format (for something like Germany vs Italy, it’s the Juggernaut line but that’s a whole other story).

Before I get to the individual moves, a bit of a summary:
Overall strategy:
In MOST games in this format, the battle is fought for key centers along the Versailles line. In particular, the following four centers: St Petersburg, Berlin, Munich, and Tunis. If Austria can take and hold 2+ on that list, as well as all of his natural centers (everything south/east of that), then he wins. If France can take and hold all four on that list, as well as all of his natural centers (everything north/west of that), then he wins. If it goes 3-1 France, it becomes a draw. Notably, St Petersburg is relatively easy for Austria to take, but utterly impossible for Austria to hold indefinitely (eventually, a concerted French assault WILL force that center, that’s simply how the board is constructed). This then spills into particular countries’ strategies:
Austria:
Since Austria must have 2 of the 4 key centers to win, and cannot hold STP forever, Austrian strategy largely falls into one of two paths. The first path is to take and hold 2/3 of the OTHER centers, which in practical terms means an all-out assault on Germany (to take and hold Berlin and Munich both) or to contest Germany while putting enough in the south to prevent France from seizing Tunis (in particular, it’s really difficult for Austria to retake Tunis from France most of the time, though unlike STP, it IS possible for Austria to hold Tunis indefinitely, provided his units are in the right places for it)
The second path, and this is the path I took in this game, is to take one of the three non STP centers and then to hold STP JUST LONG ENOUGH to get to 18. This is called an Austrian Rush, in honor of the fact that this is a race against time: to win, Austria must reach 18 quickly (which requires moving forces away from the front line) while holding out against French assaults. The more you commit to this strategy, the more it’s all or nothing, because if you DON’T win fast enough, then France WILL retake STP, and you’ll be stuck at 17 at best and it’s entirely possible that because of how much you removed from the front lines, France will be able to force the other key center, and then France gets his own easy path to 18. In particular, by moving units away from the front lines, Austria usually flat-out concedes Germany to France, which means that (usually) it boils down to whether Austria can take and hold STP/Tunis for just long enough to eke out the win, or if time runs out and he just loses.

France:
France’s strengths and weaknesses are inverse of Austria (can’t win quickly, can’t build as quickly, can usually take and hold Germany fully, and given enough time, can force his way to 18 and the win), and so his strategy is the inverse of Austrian strategy, generally reactive instead of proactive. France’s key strategic aims are usually to buy enough time to eventually force STP, and to ensure that Austria can’t take and hold any German centers. Do those two things as France, and you’ll usually win.
French strategy gets a bit more complicated if you open to Piedmont, because then you’re challenging Austria’s natural centers in Italy, but at the cost of giving up much of your edge in Germany (at least early), AND at the cost of being pretty much screwed if Austria opens a fleet to Venice, because then your Piedmont army will be stuck in no mans land without a useful build. Piedmont opening games are a bit more chaotic because it’s a less common opening, and the various response moves/builds are less fully understood, but that’s what makes these games fun! :D
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby mhsmith0 » 10 Nov 2018, 01:56

Moves Part 1 (1901-1902):

Image Image
Spring 1901
As Austria: I opened Italian (TYR/TRI/ALB) against the standard French opening of Belgian Waffle (ENG/PIC/BUR). One important point here: against this standard French opening, I’m pretty much abandoning Munich and the German centers long term. I simply CANNOT push enough units there to take and hold Munich or Berlin, so I must push elsewhere. This means that, from spring 1901 on, I’m largely committed to the Austrian Rush strategy of holding STP for just long enough, and resisting French aggression against Tunis for just long enough to get to 18.
My other (potential) advantage with this strategy is that I’ll probably be able to build 3 units consistently each winter from 1902 on, while that may not be the case for France. Depending on how moves go, that’s potentially an additional weapon in my arsenal (it’s also probably vital for keeping Tunis, since if France can spam fleets and send them south, I can’t put enough bodies into southern waters fast enough to make sure Tunis stays red).
This pair of opening move sets also affords me another important opportunity, which I’ll discuss when we get to 1902.

As France: I opened Swiss Split (ENG/BUR/PIE). If Austria opens TRI-VEN, I’m in deep trouble, but if he opens TRI-ALB and BUD-GAL/RUM (“Porcupine”), this is a pretty strong opening that probably makes me an outright favorite. The reason is that Austria can only cover one of Munich and Venice, and both are really strong centers for France to have access to early in the game.

Image Image

Fall 1901
As Austria: Absolute standard moves in the fall from both sides.
As France: Absolute standard moves in the fall from both sides.

I’m pretty clearly doing well as France, since I now have a presence in Italy that Austria must dedicate resources to stopping. As Austria, it’s neutralish, as the key moves won’t come until 1902 and later.

Image Image
Winter 1901
As Austria: Notice where I’m building: armies in Vienna and Budapest, but NOT a fleet in Trieste (which would help against French efforts against Tunis). This is a standard build here, and BOTH of these units will be heading north to contest STP as you’ll see in the coming moves. I’m committing more and more to the Austrian Rush strategy.
As France: I have a lot of potential options here, but I think this is broadly correct in terms of builds. I can push Marseilles into Piedmont and really bog Austria down in Italy, which will should help me prevent any kind of quick Austrian gains and give me the time I need to build, to position myself, and eventually win.

Image Image
Spring 1902
As Austria: The standard Austrian move in 1902 is to support Ven-Pie, but that’s mainly when France builds an army in Marseilles. With a fleet there instead, there’s no reason to expect him to want to bounce me, so I can just go to Pie and be done with it. The gain I get instead is to get into Munich, and presumably I’ll be able to get into Berlin in the fall. That’s not really a standard Austrian Rush type outcome, but it puts me in position to harass France in Germany a bit, and even if I’ll eventually be forced out of Berlin he’ll need to invest a bit more than usual just to keep me out. Among other things, that means that he really can’r afford to convoy an army into Norway (which is a potentially useful option against Austrian Rush, since an army + fleet in Scandinavia has a much easier time pressuring STP than a fleet alone.

As France: I chickened out of Par-Bur, which isn’t a huge deal but obviously would have been better. One nice thing that’s happening is that Austria is fully focused on the front line of Germany, which means that he can’t make moves towards STP and can’t do anything for a while in terms of backfilling the lower Balkans and turkey.

Image Image
Fall 1902
As Austria: You can’t see it from my movements, but I’d supported Bur-Mar in the hopes of France trying to bounce Bur and Spa in Mar, and then I can sneak into Bur for an easy early win. Alas, twas not meant to be. Still, France’s fleet is now stuck in Marseilles, and my early coin flip decision goes well and now France is -1 build despite grabbing three centers. The chance to get into a coin flip for a big early advantage is a key feature of the Italian Opening. Getting to do so without having to totally abandon Germany (since I can retreat into Berlin) is even better. Also note where my two newer armies are going; on a beeline for STP, which I can now force in 1903. And since France only has one navy in the area and no armies in Scandinavia, and thanks to my won coin flip France basically MUST use the F Brest build to head south, it will be extremely difficult for France to expel me from STP anytime before like 1907. This means I have some serious breathing room for an Austrian Rush, and don’t need to try and force 18 centers by like 1905, which would involve a greater amount of gambling. It’s not immediately obvious from eyeballing the board, but I’m in very good position already.

As France: Austria gambled a bit on the Naples move, but it worked out pretty well for him. Austria in Munich AND Berlin is bad news for me, but he’s multiple years away from STP, and he’ll need to focus energies on expelling me from Italy, so I have the potential to take and hold Tunis if I play it right, and then it’s a matter of somehow knocking him out of Germany before he can make it to 18. Complicated position but I’m ahead still, especially since I’m able to retreat into Silesia and make the game a whole lot more interesting (retreating to Kiel works too, but it’s boring, and as France any time I can push past the stalemate lines my options increase dramatically.

Image Image
Winter 1902
As Austria: Nothing surprising here. That Trieste fleet will help defend Tunis, and the other units can be used in other ways. I have options.
As France: I have no idea what’s correct here, but this seems plausibly correct I guess? At the least, “seriously contest Tunis” seems like a decent enough strategy here.
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby mhsmith0 » 10 Nov 2018, 01:56

Moves Part 2 (1903-1904):

Image Image
Spring 1903
As Austria: Probably Pie-Tyr and Vie-Boh are more traditional moves here (mainly to prevent France from pressuring my home centers), but this seems fine enough. The Pie army continues to exist as a pain in the ass to France, and in the fall I’ll have another coin flip chance to deny France a build. Forcing F Brest into MAO also pays off, because it prevents France from really doing anything interesting or aggressive with his northern fleet, and I’m in great shape to force STP and eventually (maybe) have a chance to snag another Scandinavian center.

As France: Well that was stupid. I’m sure my issure was being scared of Austria getting into Ruhr, but I really needed the Hol , and I could have potentially force Holland AND Kiel if I’d done Bel-Hol. I was also scared of losing Piedmont, but instead I managed the worst of all worlds in my southern moves. This was a very very very bad turn for me. I will not be able to grab enough builds, and this will set me back greatly for quite a while.

ImageImage
Fall 1903:
As Austria: This time I lose the coin flip and Marseilles is open for a French build. Still, I’m in good shape to be a pain in France’s ass down south, and he’ll need to invest a lot of time and energy in that theater if he wants to have a chance at Tunis. He does slip by me into Silesia, but that’s not critically important here since I have enough bodies to make a wall against him. I’m also able to get an army into Romania, and I can start to push down into Turkey potentially.

As France: Another turn goes badly for me, and I’m in real trouble. The army in Warsaw, Austria’s total lack of presence in Russia, and my ability to (probably) force Tunis, are my biggest upsides here. But this has the potential to get really ugly, all the more so given my lack of a full build set.

ImageImage
Winter 1903:
As Austria: I’m not entirely sure that I need that extra fleet, but France is investing his forces into the south theater, and at the very least a third navy can ensure that he doesn’t go further than Tunis, which will help me elsewhere.

As France: Just one build for poor France. Not looking so good here. On the upside, Austria seems to be over-committing to armies, which may leave ION open for me at some point if I play my cards correctly.

ImageImage
Spring 1904:
As Austria: I definitely have to cover Warsaw, but I’m not sure what’s the best unit for it. Ultimately I decide that it’s ok to let Prussia walk. Maybe France can take advantage of that spot, but there’s also a chance he overcommits. Probably France is better off moving Brest up north to contest Scandinavia, but a chance at Tunis is still valuable, so I can’t condemn that too much. Tyr-Boh was a there to cover against France getting cute with Sil-Boh to bypass Galicia.

As France: Austria destroys one of my Italian units (bad), but the seeds of my restoriation are sown, as I have armies in Ruhr and Burgundy, so the bleeding will at least be limited. I also can potentially get myself into ION, and have a free pass into Tunis. I’m still in trouble, but it’s not quite dire. My Warsaw army remains my MVP, as preventing the Silesia move is pretty helpful overall here.

ImageImage
Fall 1904
As Austria: I lose GOL (not shocking at all), but bounce in WMED, so I definitely hold Tunis for a little while longer. I also am able to get into Livonia, so I have a solid defensive wall against French moves, and I’m still able to get my two armies south. My build count continues to rise, and an davatnage in numbers could really start to pay off soon.

As France: I get really lucky with my guesses here, sneaking into Venice and puncturing the Ionian Sea barrier. I do lose Ruhr, but I’m in Kiel and might be able to destroy Denmark if I play my cards right. I’m also in Galicia and can harass Austria in the area and force him to divert units away from the front lines in order to deal with this threat. What I’m really trying to buy here is TIME. Time to catch up on builds, time to get in position to turn the tide.

ImageImage
Winter 1904
As Austria: Only two builds, and Tunis is under some pressure, but I’m also in pretty good position to seriously threaten German centers, while still picking up key gains using my two southeast armies. F Tri was debatable, but I’m shoring up my strength in southern waters and forcing France to continue to invest units into the region to threaten Tunis and avoid an Austrian breakthrough. I think that was the correct play strategically; A Tri picking up Serbia is nice but not really vital, since 18 in 1905 is probably difficult. I have an edge, better to be conservative I think.

As France: I’m not 100% sure F Mar is correct here, but Austria is in TYS, and I can’t afford to lose Spain or MAO. My Italian army is in serious trouble, but I don’t need him to be a star, I just need him to waste Austria’s time and energy.
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby mhsmith0 » 10 Nov 2018, 01:56

Moves Part 3 (1905+):

Image Image
Spring 1905
As Austria: I destroy the Bohemia army, but Prussia escapes back to Berlin while Berlin shores up at Kiel. I win the coin flip up north (F Nor-STP, A Swe H is bad for me), and it’s nearly ballgame, as I’m in a coin flip every turn to take Berlin or Munich every turn until France is able to send a fleet into Baltic Sea, which will be a WHILE in the future. This is basically a won game.

As France: My guesswork was up and down. I get into Romania which is a big break, but Austria gets into Belgium AND Kiel. Fortunately it’s the spring so I have some options still.

ImageImage
Fall 1905:
As Austria: France guesses right in where to have Kiel defend, but I get into Sweden, and despite the loss of Tunis it’s just a matter of time. Note my fall move ADR-APU; that was intentional to give Tunis a place to retreat to. Also note my TYS-GOL and Tus-Pie; I want to make sure that France can’t get an army into Piedmont in 1906 to disrupt my attacks on Munich.

As France: an up and down turn of guesses overall. Austria is stuck in Budapest, but I get Greece in exchange for Tunis. Up north Austria gets into Norway, and I fail to destroy the Belgian army. There’s potential here but it’s still a challenging board.

ImageImage
Winter 1905:
As Austria: A Tri goes to Venice and protects the Pie space. I’m not sure A Vie really matters at this point. France resigns the position in spring 1906.

As France: I have 0 builds. That’s fun. Fortunately I don’t have to destroy at least.

Image
Spring 1906:
As France: I have a coin flip around Ruhr-Burgundy and guess correctly, ensuring that I don’t get exposed in Bur. I also retake Kiel which is important for fall positioning. I also guess correctly in Naples, and get a second navy into ION.

Image
Fall 1906
As France: I force the recapture of Tunis, even though I lose Greece. I consider retreating to Bulgaria but that’d destroy the navy; better to go back to ION and continue being a pain in the ass with that unit. I also win a coin flip with my Rum army, and force the recapture of Norway in the north, and in the center I destroy Ruhr AND recapture Munich.
I also win the MASSIVELY important coin flip of leaving Marseilles wide open and Austria gambling that I was going to cover it. Things starting to look up.
Also (imo) Austria probably should have retreated to Berlin to prevent shenanigans in 1907 I think, instead of going to Silesia.

Image
Winter 1906
As France: I think these are all obvious builds?


Image
Spring 1907
As France: In the center, I use Munich to bounce Tyrolia which prevents Austria from being able to defend Munich in the fall. I do lose a chance to force STP in the fall, but the gain of keeping Austria out of Denmark is worth it. Retreating to Berlin is a big help too, as I can lock up all of Germany once again. In the south I get a bit lucky to grab Rome, and F TYS is forced into the Tuscany square (powerful in some cases, but bad when France has the area swarmed with navies)
I figure that I can afford to leave Mar open, but I don’t need to do it, so why bother. I also go Bre-MAO-Por to ensure a build come hell or high water if things to bad this year.
Note that I end up retreating my navy to Bulgaria instead of Ukraine. This is because I want to tap Greece so that I can get Naples into ION in the fall (potentially).

Image
Fall 1907
As France: I get a bit creative here, with Rom-Tus supported by GOL, and Mar-Pie (plus TYS-ROM because hey, why not). Basically, I’m REALLY trying to destroy Austria’s navy (which ironically I fail to do but by forcing control of 17 eventual centers, plus STP once I get enough navies into the region, it won’t matter. Austria resigns on this turn and it’s gg.
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby sinnybee » 10 Nov 2018, 02:53

Excellent job on the tourney, mhsmith0.

I hope I get a chance to play against you sometime.
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby Don Juan of Austria » 10 Nov 2018, 10:19

Wow! Marking for later, but so far a nice read. :)
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby Jensen » 12 Nov 2018, 08:17

Of your 16 games in this tournament, where do you think these two games rank in terms of a) number of coin flips and b) successful coin flips?
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby condude1 » 13 Nov 2018, 02:47

Jensen wrote:Of your 16 games in this tournament, where do you think these two games rank in terms of a) number of coin flips and b) successful coin flips?


Personally, I think both of these (my Austria one in particular), were decided by coin flips. Looking at the position in Fall '05, up 16-11 in centers, I should win 9 times out of 10 at least. 4 or 5 coin flips went against me, and I ended up losing. On the other hand, I made it into that position by a couple of lucky coin flips earlier.

As France, losing the F(Mar) build I recall really hurt. Not nearly as many, but I definitely am a bit disillusioned with this variant. I think if two reasonably strong players are playing it'll come down to coinflips most of the time. Against Cliff Dancer I had the luck with me, here I had it against me at some critical junctions. The Austrian one in particular was just guesses season after season.
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby mhsmith0 » 14 Nov 2018, 17:48

condude1 wrote:
Jensen wrote:Of your 16 games in this tournament, where do you think these two games rank in terms of a) number of coin flips and b) successful coin flips?


Personally, I think both of these (my Austria one in particular), were decided by coin flips. Looking at the position in Fall '05, up 16-11 in centers, I should win 9 times out of 10 at least. 4 or 5 coin flips went against me, and I ended up losing. On the other hand, I made it into that position by a couple of lucky coin flips earlier.

As France, losing the F(Mar) build I recall really hurt. Not nearly as many, but I definitely am a bit disillusioned with this variant. I think if two reasonably strong players are playing it'll come down to coinflips most of the time. Against Cliff Dancer I had the luck with me, here I had it against me at some critical junctions. The Austrian one in particular was just guesses season after season.


I think the Austrian one being guesses-heavy was in substantial part a function of the way things developed early, in particular the fact that both of us were being enemy lines from surprisingly early in the game; typically there's far less constant guesswork involved in games, and it's usually fairly clear by like 1903 who's gonna win. That said, you're correct that games involving players of similar experience/quality tend to hinge on at least a couple of guesses over the course of a game, but I think that's pretty inherent in any kind of setup like this (the alternative basically being that it's just unbalanced and it's a matter of whether the favorite power screws up).
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Re: AAR 2pc Tourney Final mhsmith0 vs condude1

Postby condude1 » 15 Nov 2018, 08:20

mhsmith0 wrote:
condude1 wrote:
Jensen wrote:Of your 16 games in this tournament, where do you think these two games rank in terms of a) number of coin flips and b) successful coin flips?


Personally, I think both of these (my Austria one in particular), were decided by coin flips. Looking at the position in Fall '05, up 16-11 in centers, I should win 9 times out of 10 at least. 4 or 5 coin flips went against me, and I ended up losing. On the other hand, I made it into that position by a couple of lucky coin flips earlier.

As France, losing the F(Mar) build I recall really hurt. Not nearly as many, but I definitely am a bit disillusioned with this variant. I think if two reasonably strong players are playing it'll come down to coinflips most of the time. Against Cliff Dancer I had the luck with me, here I had it against me at some critical junctions. The Austrian one in particular was just guesses season after season.


I think the Austrian one being guesses-heavy was in substantial part a function of the way things developed early, in particular the fact that both of us were being enemy lines from surprisingly early in the game; typically there's far less constant guesswork involved in games, and it's usually fairly clear by like 1903 who's gonna win. That said, you're correct that games involving players of similar experience/quality tend to hinge on at least a couple of guesses over the course of a game, but I think that's pretty inherent in any kind of setup like this (the alternative basically being that it's just unbalanced and it's a matter of whether the favorite power screws up).


Fair, I still appreciate the setup, I think it's just my chess background that is saying "Nooooo! Guesses are evil!". I like 2P still, and would play again next year (I mean, I make no promises, considering I have no idea if I'll have any time, but I'd definitely consider it), but I just have to adjust my expectations a bit. That's on me to do though, and these games were deservedly won by you.

I also haven't really experienced any blowouts for or against me after I started understanding how to play (Our match was close, we both had good chances until '04/'05 at least), so I can't necessarily speak to the game being decided by '03. Heck, I came thiiiiiis close to getting eliminated by Kuoj1 in the Round of 32. The point is that I just have to adjust my expectations for how to play high-calibre 2P games.
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