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Finished: 09 PM Thu 28 Nov 19 UTC
Private ODC 2019 - R2 G4
2 days /phase
Pot: 35 D - Autumn, 1913, Finished
Classic, Anonymous players, Sum-of-Squares Scoring, Hidden draw votes, Wait for orders
2 excused missed turn
Game drawn
23 Oct 19 UTC Autumn, 1909: Ah, well, it looks like I'm the Eeyore here, after all.
25 Oct 19 UTC Autumn, 1909: How many can we get you to, England? I'd think 15 minimum from here!
25 Oct 19 UTC Autumn, 1909: Wont matter as I am getting 18 for sure. You have no answer to my coastal locked fleets in the war for the Balkan heartlands, pretty sure Serbia is terrified of Greece and Bulgaria right about now!
25 Oct 19 UTC Autumn, 1909: Yes, I suspect Serbia may well be my last unit. Perhaps supported by England from Rumania!
25 Oct 19 UTC Autumn, 1909: Yeah, I'd support it from Greece but my unit there will be a fleet.
12 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1912: I suspect this is my last year in the game and with it my tournament, so what better way to end than with a rhyme:

Well played, England. Italy too
I'm sorry, France, no thanks to you
Next time you have two neighbours
Don't connive against the labours
Of the chap who cannot harm you
Otherwise they'll grow, disarm you
Then you'll have no friend to warm you
Please don't say I didn't warn you
12 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1912: Thanks Russia, I hesitate to eulogise you just yet, a year is a long time in diplomacy. But I enjoyed the rhyme none the less.
12 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1912: I will however begin prepping my notes.
12 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1912: It's been fun, Russia, and your posts in global have brightened the game. I too won't say goodbye just yet, but will begin to compose a fitting farewell just in case.
17 Nov 19 UTC Autumn, 1912: Russia, seems you were right about this year. I have been working on a rhyme, but let me first say it was an absolute pleasure to play on the same board as you, I really enjoyed our chats even when we were going at it hammer and tongs. You played a great game but suffered from the Russian defensive vulnerability and also because you had to try and force a result. Your opening jugg and the way you sold (at least) me down the river was highly impressive, I couldn't believe I had been arguing with Germany to get you Sweden. I felt a fool.

So anyway whilst this rhyme seems mean, please treat it in a positive spirit, and it is only really my limitations that mean I couldn't make it better...
17 Nov 19 UTC Autumn, 1912: There was a young man from Warsaw
Who fancied a few centres more
He felt needy
Got a bit greedy
But now he has been shown the door
17 Nov 19 UTC Autumn, 1912: Thank you, Italy. it was a pleasure for me too, and may I say you thoroughly deserve this result.

That silly old man from St.P
His brain was the size of a pea
He thought that the Frenchies
Would be his friends in the trenches
But his position's not worth one rupee
17 Nov 19 UTC Autumn, 1912: Yes, it was great playing with you Russia. I am not half the poet you are, but my soldiers in Munich have whipped up the following to grace your last resting place:

Here lies a Bear,
Who was fun to the end,
A skillful commander,
With nary a friend.
24 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1913: France, with genuinely the best will in the world it appears you are struggling to find the time for this game. I think it is therefore in everyone's best interest to end this as quickly as possible with the minimum fuss possible.

As such and as referenced in private chat England and I have been discussing mutually acceptable outcomes. As I have said I am happy on 14, England has indicated that 16 is fine with them which would leave you 4.

Please let us know if this is ok (and England please add your views) and let's get this done. I suggest by handing over brest and I will refrain from taking sev.
24 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1913: Thank you Italy. To say here what I've said to you both privately - the outcome Italy suggests works for me, and I hope to draw after this year at 16:14:4.
26 Nov 19 UTC Spring, 1913: Don't really have any option but to agree. Well played folks. Let's hope neither of you feels the need to complicate the result any further.
26 Nov 19 UTC Thanks France, I certainly dont feel the need.

If we agree how to transact we could close this out pretty quick:
Gol - mar
Pic - par
Bur - par
Ech s Mao - bre
Por - spa
Wms - spa

As far as I can see that only allows brest to be taken. I will hold fire around sev. Job done?
26 Nov 19 UTC With a slight tweak in sending wms to Mao so as to lightly encourage England to take brest from Mao and not be tempted to push further (suggest a bounce from nao) then I have entered those orders, readied up and put my draw vote on in case people want to wrap this up quickly. No problem at all if we want to take the phase length. I shall after all miss you guys having been a major part of my life since August!
26 Nov 19 UTC As far as I can see, Italy's suggestion is solid. I have ordered my side of it, including NAO-MAO.
26 Nov 19 UTC And, indeed, voting draw and ending the game! Thanks for the game everyone, it was a very interesting one. Some more thoughts from me a little later.
26 Nov 19 UTC Thank you everybody! I am out of time this evening so will keep it short and come back with more soon. But I really enjoyed the game, really nice meeting you all and hope to play again with you soon.
27 Nov 19 UTC Thanks everyone, a good game.

Russia: I regret that we never managed to work together in any serious way. We ended up with a nasty squabble in the North, for which I think the blame is shared. Your attack on Italy was a very interesting play. It needed France to join in, and I was certainly worried they'd be forced into that decision (though I don't think it would have been much fun - I'd have been on them immediately). If that had happened, you'd have ended up doing very well out of it.

France: I have had the privilege of playing with you before, and from that game and this I know you to be skilled at all aspects of the game. It is a great pity you did not have the time to do yourself justice in this game. Your inability to exchange multiple messages per phase hurt in innumerable small ways. And I strongly suspect it was also to blame for allowing the alliance with Italy and myself to get too dangerous for you - there was no easy remedy, but something had to be done.

Italy: Our alliance was great fun, and an important factor in the final outcome. You did brilliantly to rally France and me to your cause when Russia had you in trouble. Thank you for not getting greedy in the East at the end.
27 Nov 19 UTC Not much to add to what I have already rhymed.

The crucial year in this game was 1907 when France took Munich and had fleets in Spain and Marseilles, I was in Trieste and threatening all of Italy's holdings in Turkey, and England had almost everything committed to the far North to take St.P.

At this point, the game is a trivial Russia-France c.40% each, with Italy gone and England an impotent rump in the North.

But France couldn't or wouldn't see it and thus doomed us both. I'm not going to be surly: I congratulate Italy (particularly) in blinding France to his true interest. But really, this is Diplomacy 101: no matter how skillfully a fellow can write to you, the logic of the board sometimes shouts out loud.

Anyway, well played both of you. I shall watch the final table with interest :)
27 Nov 19 UTC Russia, the idea that England would have sat back and settled for "impotent rump" status is a complete fantasy, so it's strange that you make it so central to your Diplomacy 101 lecture. It's equally obvious (and supported by England's own admission) that I would have been his target. I'll elaborate on this later, but the logic of the board was not at all what you imagined it to be.

England, thank you for the kind words. I also remember enjoying our alliance in that game very much. You negotiated the removal of all northern threats to you exceptionally well, so hats off.

Great playing with you all. Not a good finish from me, but I'll take solace in surviving on a strong board without a schedule that's at all conducive to serious Diplomacy anymore.
27 Nov 19 UTC In no particular order...

France - I would echo Englands comments, you are a formidable opponent (as frankly were all), every time I tried to get an edge you countered, whether it was insisting on a bounce, unit position or something else. It was a shame (albeit hugely to my benefit) when demands on your time meant you couldn’t focus as much on this game - I doubt I could have achieved the result I did otherwise. I really enjoyed working with you throughout.

Russia - really enjoyed speaking to you and thanks for maintaining the dialogue even when we were at it hammer and tongs. As referenced before I loved your Jugg opening and getting me to stab Austria for you benefit not even my own still leaves me scratching my head as to how I agreed to that. I think your hand was forced by needing more points and you got a bit greedy and I felt like I needed to responded decisively. This was prior to spring 1907 which you reference and the deal had already been done at that point with England and France (and the moves in spring were a consequence of that). France could possibly have attacked me but there would have been risks there, I had for example made it clear that should he end my game by reneging on the agreement I would be giving my centres to you not him. A delicate balance with offering him (and England) enough but leaving the possibility of recovery.

Austria - all I can do is apologise, I was a complete ^&$^% to you. I never normally stab one person that much. Your suiciding on me was wholly justified.

Germany - a good game, the margins are so small at this level and I think the Western Triangle (including me) was on a knifes edge for a number of years, it could so easily have been you teaming with France against England or England against France. I think the alliances formed, dissolved, reformed etc so many times behind the scenes there. One of the (several) mistakes I made was arranging a bounce with in pie in spring 1901 but then claiming I hadn’t agreed it. I wanted to create a bit of tension between you and England but I still wanted you to go after France together, unfortunately it felt like that undermined you trust of England a bit too much. Or perhaps I am reading too much into it and my agreement with France was super obvious.

England - well played, I think you deserved to top the board here. Your play in all facets - politically, tactically and strategically was top draw. No problem around not being greedy, my logic was even if I got to say 50 I still need to get another score and therefore the difference between 45 and 50 is probably not much (famous last words I am sure) and I didn’t want to push it and give you the chance to get a solo. I enjoyed our alliance, even if we did end up engaged in military conflict in the balkans (first Italian/English contact in Rumania - that does not happen often)

Turkey - some random but entertaining play. I think I got a few grey hairs trying to figure out what you would be doing.

All - one thing I want to say is a big thank you that everyone maintained professional and cordial comms even during times of intense conflict. It makes the game so much more enjoyable.
27 Nov 19 UTC Italy: for my part, I strongly suspected your bounce in Piedmont was arranged, because a move there from France would otherwise be pretty weird. But you and France denied it firmly, and there was no real reason to press the point.
28 Nov 19 UTC Thank you Italy, same to you. You were consistently accommodating and reliable, right up until the treacherous end.

To everybody, I apologize that my frequent absences diminished the quality of the game. My schedule is very different now than when the tournament started some nine months ago, but I had too much pride and not enough wisdom to drop out.

To offer a more comprehensive look back (since of course I have a long train ride right after the game ends and not when I have to make decisions)...

In the early going, I found it easier to work with England than with Germany. When that wavered, I was able to rally Germany to my cause in the short term, but I never felt like he would side with me when it mattered, even when he had three fleets, due to their passive movements in 1904 and England's track record of establishing rapport with him (and presumably honesty). This was a huge diplomatic failure on both of our parts, I think.

In particular, I considered moving to MAO and the Channel in spring 1905. While not guaranteeing immediate gains, it would have put England under some real pressure. However, I would have still had to lie to Germany to make the moves work, and I feared that would be enough to trigger another E/G alliance. While I did not even expect to lose much ground to an E/G for several years, I decided to take the more likely growth from Munich and Holland over stagnation, all the more so since I thought the Italian position looked rather comfortable at the time. In retrospect, I think this was a key strategic mistake, probably my biggest. It allowed England to become entrenched in the North and do a phenomenal job of warding off preemptive attacks later, while even if Germany had taken England's side forever (unlikely), the dynamic situation in the east would probably have been to my advantage rather than making me fall far behind a leader. I was too certain about my inaccurate evaluation of the east and too doubtful of my ability to harness other relationships to my benefit.

As we rolled through Germany, the natural next step was for England to take on Russia and for me to take on Italy. Both required significant regrouping of resources and would have to be undertaken around the same time to avoid stabs. However, the war against Russia set up to be a substantially easier one, so I kind of needed England to make the first move, in a way I wasn't really able to negotiate cleanly. Crucially, Russia had already lost St. Petersburg, so even after it was recaptured, there was not a good moment to build there and actually put up enough resistance that I either had the freedom to attack Italy or launch a preemptive attack on England. The former would have meant an absent navy and guaranteed attack from England on the vulnerable lowlands and MAO with new builds from St. Petersburg and eventually Berlin, while I would get only Tunis at best. The latter (even making the generous assumption that it would get me a tactical edge against a watchful England) would result in a comfortable border between England and Russia, and likely Russian dominance in the Balkans.

Russia -- at the risk of droning on, I want to elaborate a little more on your role in this decision. Trying to persuade me to attack Italy without accounting for the role of my biggest threat on the board came off as tremendously disingenuous. Moreover, I had actually been enthusiastic about solidarity from opposite sides of the board and coordinating against our mutual threats -- until you propped up Germany in a way that directly harmed my growth. I couldn't really invoke that principle if you were acting in direct contravention of it. I also knew for a fact that England and Italy had a strong relationship already. If the two of us went heads up against the two of them, I was in the likeliest position to be eliminated, not Italy, and by some distance. Ultimately, despite these factors, the decision wasn't even personal; it was that I didn't see an active alternative that didn't result in a likely fatal war with England. But I think I struggled to convey both of these factors to you, and our results suffered for it.

So instead, I went with the alternative of a three-way alliance with Italy and England, in which Italy willingly forwent a fair share and the majority of my growth would come from being willingly handed the same centers Russia would have me fight over. I knew this would be difficult to enforce in practice, but I hoped picking up builds here and there would deter an English attack for long enough to concentrate units in the Baltic / Livonia / Prussia and make it easier for him to get the centers he needed from that route than my own holdings. Obviously, it was always going to be a tall order, but I didn't expect Russia to throw quite as swiftly or effectively. Fair play.

There you have it, guys! I blame my weak play thereafter (and all my prior mistakes too, why not!) on being busy ;)

Germany, I really wish we had figured out how to trust each other. I definitely hold my fair share of the blame here. We both had a few opportunities to really hurt England's position, and a player as skillful as him was always going to make us pay for not taking them.

England, we had a rocky start but your play was pretty much impeccable throughout. I briefly considered throwing to you after that last Italian stab, mostly just because you deserved a solo.

Italy, I think you may have been a bit quick to stab as we discussed, but ultimately you also had a very strong game that merits the strong finish you got.

Russia and Austria, I think you both may have been a bit too determined in your throwing; I remember thinking that both of you should consider the opportunity to pull back and fight for survival at various times, but I would have to go back and think about specifics that you have probably considered, so I can't really complain.

Turkey, I didn't get the chance to speak with you much, but I hope to meet again in future games -- and the same goes for the rest of you!

Good game everyone!
28 Nov 19 UTC At the risk too of droning on, look again at the position in Spring/Fall 1907: there is nothing England can do to you! His units are completely out of position and vulnerable, but not only did you fail to take advantage, you actually helped him keep Kiel and take Berlin for a build!

And you're surprised when he comes back later and rips into you... Well, who knew? Where else was he going?

I am not the greatest player in the world, far from it, but I have been playing since 1980 and seen a LOT of positions. Frankly, you just don't make your neighbors stronger at the expense of the power on the other side of the board. You just don't do that. It is 101.
28 Nov 19 UTC As I've said, I was not surprised, but felt that your alternative was substantially worse and gave me less of a chance to survive the stab when it came. It feels like you're not actually reading what I'm saying and are reverting to treating your heuristics as axioms. That's your prerogative, and I could well be wrong in this case, but I too have been playing too long to be convinced by appeals to "101" reasoning.

I would say about 75% of French stabs on Italy are strategic mistakes, and this would be no different. It takes a year even to get into position to threaten Tunis. By his own admission, England would have been looking to turn on me in 1908-1909. Are you really saying England would struggle to come up with a successful plan of attack with my fleets in the Mediterranean?
28 Nov 19 UTC Good game, all. Congrats on the draw.

Italy, thank you for the nice words. My play was pitiful in this game. In my salad days with Diplomacy (before life got as busy as it has been the last couple years), my communication, attention, and interest were at a peak I haven't been able to match lately. My game suffers as a consequence, hence the scrambling to latch onto a partnership early on. Apologies for the schizophrenic play ...

Russia, I had you pegged as a totally different player, who also likes to communicate in rhyme that is very similar to yours. I know we are supposed to leave past games in the past, but I will admit that I had an inherent distrust of you based on that.

I enjoyed following the action of the game, even after my departure. For any fellow Americans, Happy Thanksgiving.
28 Nov 19 UTC My two cents on a French attack on Italy in 1907:
- I’d have turned on France immediately, and did nothing to hide this at the time.
- I would have had a build in 1908 (possibly after a disband), and an easy Northern line to hold. That would have given me a lot of freedom to attack France quickly.
- Italy would also have turned West.

I think we’d have had one of two outcomes:
- France defends well enough to last until Italy is crippled by Russia; endgame is a huge Russia, FE splitting most of the North, with maybe a tiny Italy.
- France starts to lose centres and quickly collapses. The endgame is very unclear.

I don’t think France had the fleets to make any significant progress against Italy while I charged full steam at them from a defensible North. I’m not sure what the right play for France was - it was a tricky spot to be in.
28 Nov 19 UTC I think it worth noting that the position in 1907 arose because of an agreement reached between FEI about how to take out of russia. That is important because I had already promised him centres such as Tunis but perhaps more so that any deviation would have been seen as a stab by both England who would have attacked any myself and I had made it clear and indeed would have followed through on that if he ended my game by attacking after we had agreed on an approach then it would be russia not france getting my centres.

I would also address the Russia hypothesis that you always help the player on the other side of the board not your neighbours (I paraphrase slightly) - taking that too far is how solos happen and the point England made well in his note above that that course would have resulted in a massive russia dominating the whole east and a split west.

Yes it may have worked out for him to attack me but I dont believe it was as clear cut as Russia says. There was another plausible outcome that given how much england extended then if he had got off a stab before England then maybe france and I would have rolled england up.
29 Nov 19 UTC Well, I think the only way to resolve this disagreement is to play it out :) I am pretty sure England can make no headway against France from that 1907 position but I am willing to be proved wrong. Can we set up a board on this site and see?

There is absolutely no Russian solo in that game: not even close. Russia can solo only with a Northern game and that was dead to me. If I could hold the line from Moscow to Trieste for 13 I was peaking. Meanwhile, I think France gets everything from Kiel to Naples and over to Brest. Perhaps Germany keeps Berlin in an SoS game...

Words are wind, but I'll take the bet against anyone who wants it.
29 Nov 19 UTC As for England and Italy threatening hellfire and damnation on France if he followed his interest... Well, isn't that just what you'd expect from two solid allies who are desperately worried? They never made the mistake of helping their neighbors to grow stronger at the other's expense.

Sometimes heuristics ARE axioms.
29 Nov 19 UTC This site doesn’t have a way to set up boards, but I have a backstabbr sandbox for this game - tonight I will send around a version with the board in 1907. I’ll also play it out a bit with France stabbing and some sensible moves for all parties.
29 Nov 19 UTC Great. Thanks, teccles; I am genuinely interested.
29 Nov 19 UTC I would agree that a russian solo here was probably not on the cards but a significant board top certainly was. Happy to participate in the intellectual exercise and advise on sort of moves I might have made of course acknowledging that without the diplomacy and without real tournament points on the line it wont quite be the same. I certainly felt at the time that I would have thrown if stabbed but who knows if that would have lasted as I do love surviving.
29 Nov 19 UTC Russia, I think you're right that it comes down to the tactical situation. I was and remain extremely confident that England would have a substantially easier time completing an invasion starting 1908-9 with my fleets horribly out of position. Either way, it was 100% guaranteed that England would attack me in this scenario, meaning sparing the fleets to continue an Italian invasion would be literally impossible. It's not even that they were threatening me with that possibility, it's that they were providing an alternative to this fairly obvious (IMHO) result.
30 Nov 19 UTC So my moves as France in Autumn '07, given the rest of us making the plays we did (except Germany, who is making the orders I suggest).

Mun & Hol + (Ber&BAL!) S Ruh-Kie. Mar-GOL, Spa-WMS, Bur-Bel.
Builds F Bre, A Mar

Germany destroys A Ber!

If you can see a way for England or Italy to come back against that, I'd love to know your solution. It looks clear to me.
30 Nov 19 UTC Oh, one change to my orders, Sil-Boh.
30 Nov 19 UTC I think it is fanciful to suppose Germany would have disbanded Berlin.

Anyway. I'm not sure I can actually share a game state you can then play with. But with an Autumn '07 stab, I think we might have seen something like this after a few years:
https://www.backstabbr.com/sandbox/5445492975075328

France has taken Berlin, Kiel and Tunis for 11, while England is on the easily held Northern 7 and is starting to pile the pressure on MAO (but France can defend it). Russia has an easy route to 13. What will happen next is very hard to say; there's a lot of talking going on in this position. It wouldn't be absurd for it to end more or less as-is, after finishes against Austria and Turkey.

So that reading mostly agrees with Russia. In this scenerio Russia would have ended up the largest power, but France would also have finished a decent second. This comes with major caveats: I played this out fast, didn't think about diplomatic tensions, and probably made mistakes, but I suspect the broad thrust of it is right. The big suprise to me was how well the Med went for France.
30 Nov 19 UTC Thanks for that. One caveat: why would Germany keep the useless army in Berlin that could be kicked out at any time instead of the fleet that France would be desperate to keep alive?
30 Nov 19 UTC I may be wrong, but my reading on Germany at that point was that they had mostly given up, and were happy turtling as much as possible in their home SCs.
30 Nov 19 UTC He said to me (and he is welcome to correct this) that he was too busy and would just write the order I sent him.
30 Nov 19 UTC As evidence, I offer the support order he gave to France in Autumn '08, at my behest.
30 Nov 19 UTC Ah, right. All in all, it looks like my position was rather dodgier than I realised at the time :-)
30 Nov 19 UTC That's what happens when you think only of the North :)
30 Nov 19 UTC Well, that was never my intent. I tried to coordinate attacks on other WT powers in 1901, 1902 (yes, that really was on before you told Germany), and 1903. Obviously I failed and ended up being pushed North, but not for want of trying :-)
30 Nov 19 UTC I know, still it worked out well for you in the end. Good luck in the final :)
30 Nov 19 UTC Thanks! Not counting those chickens just yet though...

Start Backward Open large map Forward End

England
teccles (1868 D)
Drawn. Bet: 5 D, won: 20 D
16 supply-centers, 15 units
Italy
Brumark (2051 D)
Drawn. Bet: 5 D, won: 15 D
14 supply-centers, 13 units
France
diplomat554 (2104 D)
Drawn. Bet: 5 D, won: 2 D
4 supply-centers, 5 units
Germany
Skidmarks (737 D)
Defeated. Bet: 5 D
Austria
jollycream (969 D)
Defeated. Bet: 5 D
Turkey
MakTub (1740 D)
Defeated. Bet: 5 D
Russia
SimonMH (106 D)
Defeated. Bet: 5 D
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