Gunboat Strategy: England

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naked
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#21 Post by naked » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:58 pm

" You can also take Berlin immediately, but only from Munich, ordering a power 2 move on Munich behind yourself. "

Austria and Germany can prevent this, with Germany cutting the support of Baltic Sea. Germany's best effort to stay in the game is fighting for Berlin anyay. Even if England takes Berlin with Baltic Sea Austria can then retake Berlin with the help of Germany (Baltic Sea attacks Kiel). Yes, Germany is dead (anyway), but his revange is to prevent a solo of England as i would guess with Prussia and time to get other forces to Liv Berlin should stay with Austria.

CSteinhardt
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#22 Post by CSteinhardt » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:28 am

naked wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:58 pm

Austria and Germany can prevent this, with Germany cutting the support of Baltic Sea. Germany's best effort to stay in the game is fighting for Berlin anyay. Even if England takes Berlin with Baltic Sea Austria can then retake Berlin with the help of Germany (Baltic Sea attacks Kiel). Yes, Germany is dead (anyway), but his revange is to prevent a solo of England as i would guess with Prussia and time to get other forces to Liv Berlin should stay with Austria.
Good point, that's what I get for doing a quick look. You can force Berlin from BAL, but that opens up other complications. The S09 position is of course an easier win, but the F08 one I believe actually can be drawn a fair bit of the time if Austria gets a couple of guesses right as well as chooses to aim for the draw. I say the latter because England can destroy Ber from BAL, requiring Austria to retake it while putting units into Lvn, Pru, Sil, Boh, Tyr, and his best way to do so is to abandon StP immediately because the army is needed in Livonia.

Some sort of guess will still be required when Austria tries to retake Berlin, because the only way to force Berlin back (BAL - Kie, cut Mun, Pru uncuttably support Sil - Ber) will leave a hole in Silesia after Mun - Sil, while shifting forces more aggressively lets England bounce Pru a couple of times while putting a fleet into Denmark, so that he can then take Ber forced from BAL and keep a hostile unit out of BAL at the same time. This will likely sacrifice Munich, but if Austria has been forced to shift Budapest north far enough, Austria will not be able to take Munich with followup, so that Ber - Sil retakes it, and then we get a variation of the same position, but with a couple of units destroyed and needing replacement.

My suspicion is that the end result is probably an English win, mainly because the situation in which England gets a fleet into Livonia is enough to win, even if Austria is occupying Berlin every other forward position (if you don't see why this is a win, it's a fun tactical problem). For that matter, in many positions, if Austria is slow enough that England can put an army into Piedmont instead of a fleet, then trading Berlin and Munich will also lead to an English win.

But I agree it's not 100% forced - sorry about that and well spotted!

lukeresch
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#23 Post by lukeresch » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:10 pm

First of, I would like to say thank you both for such an in depth review!

CSteinhardt wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:06 pm

...so that it all comes down to Tunis. If you end up with Tunis long-term, you win. If Austria does, it is a draw, but if Austria takes Tunis quicker than you take StP, Austria wins. So, recognizing the situation, your entire focus at this point in the game should have been on Tunis, not Scandinavia. You can take Tunis immediately, but holding it is a far trickier proposition.
At that time, I did realize that it would all come down to Tunis. But, because I could take Tunis right now, I was thinking that I needed to take Scandanavia and St. P as fast as possible. Looking ahead, I figured that I needed to delay Austria 1 turn. Which was a 50/50 shot, between moving Piedmont back to Tuscany and bouncing A Rome -> Tuscany w/o support, or bouncing the fleet move to Rome, which prevents him from getting to GoL and cutting my support to Tunis.

Now, I believe this is getting outside the scope of this thread as it is getting into specific tactics, rather than general Gunboat Strategy so I will leave it here.

I want to say thank you again for your insight, naked and CSteinhardt, and for looking at my game. I see your points that I should have prioritized Tunis earlier, rather than Scandanavia.

CSteinhardt
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#24 Post by CSteinhardt » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:29 pm

I think the broader point here comes down to understanding where the many stalemate lines are on the map and how they will affect endgame play. For example, if you want to know whether to prioritize Munich, Tunis, or Norway in that position, the starting point for analysis is asking yourself which ones can be taken later, even after the opposing forces have gotten into position and which ones are only available right now. And, similarly, which ones you will be able to hold once you take them and which ones you will only be able to rent temporarily (in your game, Austria is only borrowing StP for a while, but if he can take one more center while still borrowing it, the game will end before he has to lose it. You don't need to take 18 permamently, just temporarily, to get a solo win).

And a key part of this idea is that which positions are stalemate and which are not depends not just on which centers are on each side of the line, but on many other things as well. The reason that the main SW to NE stalemate line is so common is that there are many, many variations of it, and so usually you can be pushed back a little bit and still find a way to hold it. However, there are many other positions like this which bascially you need to get exactly right (such as the one I mentioned holding Tunis without the Gulf of Lyon). As an example, I implied in my message that you can take Scandinavia at your leisure, because there is no way for Germany and Austria to hold it against you even if you allow Austria to shift armies so that you face units in Moscow, Finland, Livonia, StP, Nwy, and Swe. This is true, as you can see. Those six units are not enough to hold Scandinavia.

However, suppose that Austria could find a way to give Germany Sevastopol in this position (of course, he can't), so that Germany is allowed to have a northern fleet which does not sit inside a supply center. (Or, equivalently, suppose that you are fighting this endgame against, say, a Russia + Turkey alliance, so that all six northern units are Russian and he can potentially build additional northern fleets). In that case, if the two fleets could somehow be maneuvered to BAR and GoB, then one can hold these centers with BAR + StP S Nwy, Fin + GoB S Swe, and the ability to hold Livonia (or at least deny it to your opponents).

In other words, the reason that I said you could take Scandinavia at your leisure and there was no rush was partly because this is usually true in Scandinavia but also partly because of the specific position. If you were facing an enemy capable of assembling the position that I just described, then you would still not need to make taking all of Scandinavia a priority, but you *would* need to make crossing the line I just mentioned a priority. This could be done in several ways; for example, put a fleet in NWG while they are shifting forces and continually bouncing a move to BAR until you are ready to get more aggressive would be sufficient, as would something similar around GoB.

The point I am trying to make here is really this -- thinking about the endgame from the outset is where your success will come as a gunboat player. The game really comes down to strategy (what are my important objectives and what aren't?) and tactics (accomplishing my goals against an enemy who wishes to stop me).

The best gunboat player in the world cannot talk themselves out of an opening in which two neighbors decide to take them apart, nor can you concede something and negotiate a truce. There is no magical opening as Austria that will let you survive against an Italy who wants your centers, and my experience has been that about 40% of the time, by 1903 that will happen. So, even the best players in the world will lose about 1/3 of their games (or be crippled) in the first few years. The difference comes entirely in what you do with the viable midgame and endgame positions, and getting those strategic decisions right is almost entirely driven by an understanding of what can and cannot be forced in the endgame.

Choosing the wrong strategy (e.g., focusing on Munich instead of Tunis) means that you may play perfect tactics, outguess your opponent at every turn and turn a 50/50 battle into a winning outcome, and still end up short of winning. The most successful gunboat players have a variety of approaches to the early game, a variety of ways of thinking about what they do, and although they are all strong tactically, certainly some are better than others. But what they all have in common is that every single time you give them a sniff of a chance to reach 18, they will aim not just for objectives that will actually get them to a solo if achieved, but for the easiest set of objectives that provide a win. As you can see, the map is complicated enough that doing the analysis to figure out which those are usually isn't easy. But as a result, that's where the biggest skill gap between strong and intermediate players comes from, and you will improve much more quickly with a focus on squeezing more out of the endgame rather than on squeezing more out of the opening.
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swordsman3003
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#25 Post by swordsman3003 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:37 pm

In response to this conversation, I direct readers to the following document I made. I have pictures and explanations of the winning positions.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CAM ... tStABatOtA
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swordsman3003
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#26 Post by swordsman3003 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:40 pm

CSteinhardt wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:29 pm
And a key part of this idea is that which positions are stalemate and which are not depends not just on which centers are on each side of the line, but on many other things as well. The reason that the main SW to NE stalemate line is so common is that there are many, many variations of it, and so usually you can be pushed back a little bit and still find a way to hold it. However, there are many other positions like this which bascially you need to get exactly right (such as the one I mentioned holding Tunis without the Gulf of Lyon).
For a demonstration of what CSteinhardt is describing, I direct the reader to this private game I played with my family and friends:

http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=200634

In Autumn 1907, Turkey moves Warsaw to Livonia. This is a grave error.

Because there is no way Turkey will ever conquer St. Pete from the south (it is trivial for England to hold St. Pete with his position), there is no reason for Turkey to advance into Livonia.

In Spring 1908, Turkey still had a chance to move Livonia back to Warsaw, but uselessly attacked St. Pete.

In Autumn 1908, Turkey had 1 last chance to move Livonia back to Warsaw, but instead supported Galicia northward into Warsaw.

This strategic/tactical error happened, clearly, because Turkey did not understand what the consequence would be when England eventually destroyed Livonia. England, an experienced player, forced Livonia to disband in Spring 1909, sending that unit aaaaaaaall the way back to Turkey.

Because Turkey had no army in Ukraine or Sevastopol (which Turkey could have had with ease during the preceding Turns by moving back south out of Livonia), England conquered Moscow for the winning 18th center (the 1 needed center on the other side of the usual stalemate line).

Had Turkey understood how it was unnecessary and useless to attack St. Pete and instead built an impregnable stalemate position (which would have been trivial to do), the game would have ended in a draw. Turkey's play can only be described as a blunder due to his inexperience with the game.

That is the kind of mistake you must NEVER make if you are to rise in the ranks of gunboat diplomacy players, and you must ALWAYS exploit if you see it.
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mhsmith0
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#27 Post by mhsmith0 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:24 pm

swordsman3003 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:37 pm
In response to this conversation, I direct readers to the following document I made. I have pictures and explanations of the winning positions.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CAM ... tStABatOtA
I think I disagree with you about putting STP in the "never" category for southern powers Italy/Austria/Turkey. There are many situations where it's impregnable, but once taken it can SOMETIMES be held just long enough to hit 18. I recently participated in a 10-game gunboat series (I was in 9/10) where a southern solo containing STP happened MULTIPLE times

https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play ... _id=137232
(I solo'd as Italy with STP and WITHOUT Tunis)

https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play ... _id=137230
(someone else did the same as Italy... did I ever mention I suck as France lol)

https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play ... _id=137234
(I won with STP as part of a 19 SC Turkish solo)

GarlMargs
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Re: Gunboat Strategy: England

#28 Post by GarlMargs » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:51 pm

I usually favor an immediate attack (or at least immediate pressure) on France when playing as England in gunboat.

Abandoning Norway to Russia is a bit risky and not ideal, but isn't as suicidal as it might look. Russia tends to be under significant pressure in gunboat and usually has better things to do than build a fleet in StP North and attack the British Isles. On the other hand, attacking England is the path of least resistance for a France who's had a successful first year and isn't under any German or Italian pressure.

If you manage to put a fleet in the Channel and bait France into covering Brest while you support yourself into Belgium, you're in very good shape. Not only can you force the Atlantic, but France will look weak and Italy and Germany can be tempted to join in.

Of course, this isn't without its risks. A bounce in the English Channel is probably game over, especially if you went all in and sent your army to Wales. Still, France goes to the Channel pretty rarely and the risk of a bounce is arguably much lower than the risk of a backdoor stab if you go for Scandinavia and France is allowed to grab two or three SC's in 1901.

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