Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

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Carl Tuckerson
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Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#1 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:33 am

Russia is the worst power in Classic gunboat by a country mile. What adjustments can Russian players make to improve their odds?

~~~

Although I disagree with some of his conclusions, I think swordsman3003's Tier List for Gunboat Diplomacy is a great discussion of the powers' strengths and weaknesses, and that he makes some excellent prescriptions for most of the powers in the game. For example, I think his advice to Austrian players to gamble on total trust in Italy from the beginning is exactly right, and that strategy has been the cornerstone of a record of success for me playing the "C-tier" power.

His prescriptions on Russia are noticeably absent. One might think there are no prescriptions, and the situation cannot be salvaged. Maybe that's true, but why not take a stab at it?

swordsman does a superb job of breaking down Russia's weaknesses:
The Gunboat metagame favors many early attacks on Russia:

England will contest Scandinavia and can easily seize control of St. Petersburg if England succeeds. Unless France or Germany attack England, England will prevail against Russia in the North. If Russia is shut out of the North by England, Russia might be able to linger around for a draw... but probably will be unable to win.
Germany will often, or even typically, block Russia from entering Sweden in 1901. Without press, Russia lacks the capability of negotiating a way into Sweden in 1901. (In high level matches, German players are more likely to allow Russia into Sweden so that England cannot immediately attack Germany.)
Germany typically gets walled off by France at Burgundy and by England at North Sea. Meanwhile, Germany can easily and suddenly attack Warsaw over land, which is a tempting target because Moscow usually soon follows. Russia's starting fleets are useless in defending the landlocked Warsaw and Moscow.
Because Austria and Russia are mutually weak on the defense, this creates a prisoner's dilemma where each power has a huge incentive to go to war with the other. If one power fails to attack while the other initiates war, the power that did not fight will end up quickly destroyed (such is the nature of a prisoner's dilemma). This problem exists immediately (both Austria and Russia should open by moving their armies to Galicia to prevent the other from controlling it) and continues every turn thereafter (whichever power currently controls Galicia has the upper hand in the war, so both must constantly contest Galicia). Because Austria and Russia cannot negotiate a truce with written messages (which can lead to the powerful Austria/Russia alliance in Press Diplomacy), the metagame typically dooms Austria and Russia to war against each other until one of them is destroyed or another power threatens to solo win.
I think this is a generally accurate description of the situation. What can be done about it?

My only serious point of disagreement with this assessment is the characterization of Russia's and Austria's situation as a "prisoner's dilemma," where the profitable move in one iteration is always attacking over cooperating. I think this significantly undersells the options available to Austria when Austria and Russia are not at war.

The most important one is that Italy becomes a viable target for Austrian attack. Aside from the risk of being annihilated in the first few turns of the game, Austria's big weakness that sharply inhibits its ceiling is its great difficulty in contesting the waters of the Mediterranean. Both Italy and Turkey need Austria's centers to win, and if Austria survives the early game, it is typically at the expense of Turkey, creating a strong position for Italy in the middle turns, which Austria may find very difficult to overcome. The one window where Turkey and Italy are both vulnerable is in the early turns, but because the metagame has stalled in a position where Austria and Russia constantly fight, and Turkey and Italy constantly fight, it's very rare for Austria to find a middle game where one of Turkey or Italy hasn't entrenched itself too deeply for Austria to root out. And because Austria's units are always pointed east, Italy is the one which usually gets too entrenched to be rooted out.

The other option, which goes hand-in-hand with the observations above, is that Turkey becomes a viable target for Russian attack. Russia doesn't have very many plausible unilateral attacks, but one of the attacks which is plausible but underutilized is the sequence where Russia takes Romania with a fleet, leaving Sevastopol open for a second fleet build. Most Turkish players will be forced to choose between covering against a threatened Lepanto attack (in most games) or the possibility that Russia will build a second fleet and take control of the Black Sea. Once Russia has the Black Sea, if Austria is pressuring from Bulgaria and Aegean Sea, the Turkish position quickly becomes untenable. This sequence is by far the most reliable sequence for killing Turkey, but it never gets used because Austria and Russia "always" fight, so Russia can't spare a second fleet.

If cooperation between Austria and Russia is plausible, Russia gets access to another option whose strength has rapidly increased as a result of other metagame shifts: the "northern" opening, sending Moscow to St. Petersburg. This opening checks the recent shift of English players opening to the English Channel by threatening them with a zero-build 1901. Since Germany is much more likely to bounce Russia if England opens to the Channel, this also permits Russia to earn some goodwill with England by not moving to Norway, and instead going to Finland in anticipation of a bounce in Sweden. Strategically, the second unit in Scandinavia early makes Russia a real player in that theater, and gives Russia a better chance of fighting back against the tendency of that theater to fall by default to the strongest Atlantic power.

For these reasons I'm thinking that Russia and Austria should look to cooperate more often in the early game, and I might even advocate that Russian players start opening Moscow to St. Petersburg instead of Ukraine. You're risking Romania this way, but the Austrian alliance is very underexplored and seems like a natural fix to both countries' woes.
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rokakoma
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#2 Post by rokakoma » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:39 am

I was thinking about this as well:

The first idea that comes to my mind is: Finland should be a supply center instead of Sweden.

My approach is the following. In my opinion Germany is the strongest power in gunboats, Russia is the weakest. So the only thing I would do is give some extra power to Russia at the expense of Germany.

I can't really foresee how this seemingly minor change would alter the game's dynamics, probably a lot more than one might think. On the other hand though, if the map gets more balanced, it benefits the game on the long run I'm pretty sure.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#3 Post by BobMcBob » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:44 am

I for sure cannot tell why this thread popped up ;)

But I think that the gunboat metagame definitely needs some fixing up, and we've already seen the effects that swordsman advocating for a channel opening and Carl presenting the Tyrolian Tuck have had. If there's any way to fix up the metagame, this is it.

Currently, Russia and Austria are two of the worst powers to play, and one of the major contributing factors to this is the metagame of aggression between the two countries. But metas, as we have seen, can change. Therefore, I encourage everyone playing either Russia or Austria not to open to galicia in S01. If the other person moves there and takes control of it, too bad, you were probably going to lose that game anyway, and you have done a great help to the overall gunboat community.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#4 Post by rokakoma » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:49 am

BobMcBob wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:44 am
I for sure cannot tell why this thread popped up ;)

But I think that the gunboat metagame definitely needs some fixing up, and we've already seen the effects that swordsman advocating for a channel opening and Carl presenting the Tyrolian Tuck have had. If there's any way to fix up the metagame, this is it.

Currently, Russia and Austria are two of the worst powers to play, and one of the major contributing factors to this is the metagame of aggression between the two countries. But metas, as we have seen, can change. Therefore, I encourage everyone playing either Russia or Austria not to open to galicia in S01. If the other person moves there and takes control of it, too bad, you were probably going to lose that game anyway, and you have done a great help to the overall gunboat community.
With the same logic, Russia and England should/could trust each other just as much as Austria and Italy. I think Russia and England are natural allies, despite many players on this site disagree with me.

Generally I agree, experience and common sense (when it's really 'common') can compensate for imbalances brought by the map itself.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#5 Post by Claesar » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:06 am

I agree that Germany should let Russia into Sweden more often. It's not a threat to Germany and it helps against a possible E/F.

However, I feel we shouldn't discuss making Finland a supply centre. While an interesting idea, it just isn't going to happen. We can change the meta, but not the map.

As both Austria and Russia, I would love to DMZ Galicia in Spring 1901. As I see it, the only way for this to happen is if one of the powers can afford to start opening to Gal less, so a metagame shift starts and the other can also stop opening to Gal. But who can?

Russia
As Russia I don't mind opening to Gal, because opening north isn't something I'm a huge fan of either, but I hate the constant bounces afterwards. What happens when I start to open north instead?

https://imgur.com/0N9yaGX

I have to choose between covering Warsaw or attacking Rumania. Even if I guess right, I'm not a lock to get Rumania as Austria might be supported in.
Did I gain a centre in the north to compensate? No, I did not.
Can we all agree that the sensible move for Austria from this position is to accept this kind gesture and move Galicia back to Vie/Bud? Don't feel like we can.
So, this is not acceptable for me to start a meta change with.

More Russia
I'm not afraid to think outside of the box. Usually. Let's say we're committed to this idea and need to find a solution. I think it has to be Warsaw Hold!

https://imgur.com/q7dgtjv

It shows the educated Austria that you're looking for cooperation, but it doesn't incentivise Austria to kill you on the spot. If we can agree on this opener as a meta-changer strategy, it should convey the desire to DMZ Gal. Thoughts?

Austria

As Austria I love to cover Trieste or Tyrolia, so I die less in 1901. But I still feel it's more important to stop Russia from entering Gal. Let's see what happens when we throw caution to the wind so we can improve the world.

https://imgur.com/XD7gA3q

Russia now has a spare army in Galicia that has a 50% shot at killing you immediately. Death in 1901.
Will they accept your gesture and vacate Gal? I doubt it.

Is there a remedy? There might be, if we think outside of the box: Ser S Bul-Rum!
If we all agree that from this position we will support Turkey to Rumania instead of ourselves to Greece, Russia is forced to use all three units to take it. Your home centres are 'safe'!
But does that create an alliance between Russia and Austria? Probably not.
And if so, why would Turkey not just bounce you out of Greece instead?
In the end, I don't think this is going to cut it.

I personally feel there's no good way for Austria to start this meta change, unless Italy starts opening to Trieste more (so it becomes more important to block them).
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#6 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:52 am

Claesar wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:06 am
Russia
As Russia I don't mind opening to Gal, because opening north isn't something I'm a huge fan of either, but I hate the constant bounces afterwards.
Your entire analysis is strong, but this bit got me thinking. Maybe the issue is less the openings, and more how we react to the information on the board.

Look at how Germany manages the decision to forbid or permit Russia to take Sweden in A01. What are the key flashpoints that Germany observes when making this decision?

☦ Russia's moves themselves. For how obvious this observation is, it doesn't come up very often that anything Russia does would affect Germany's decision. Maybe some German players still give Russian players freebies for not opening to Galicia, as is advocated in old-school strategy articles for press games, but at least anecdotally, the Germans in my games sure have moved on from this thinking.
☦ The English Channel. If England moved to the English Channel, I think Germany is much more likely to block Sweden, because Russia's main value to Germany is as a counterweight to a Scandinavian-focused English opening. When England opens north, Germany bounces Sweden much less frequently.
☦ Austria's and Turkey's positions. If Turkey permitted Russia to take the Black Sea or Italy attacked Austria on the first turn, then Germany might block Sweden as a speed bump for Russia in the north, to adjust for an expected speed boost in the south.

Now look at how Russia manages the decision to move to Galicia in A01. I think the best summary of Russian analysis of the decision to move to Galicia is "Wait, what decision?" The move is just automatic for so many players. Why? Some thoughts:

☦ All the security concerns that apply in S01 theoretically still apply in A01. In practice, this isn't true: An Austrian player who moves to Galicia in A01 can't take a swipe at Warsaw or disrupt Russia's capture of Romania in time to deny Russia a build; Russia had an additional turn to put an army in Ukraine so Austria can't push any deeper into Russian territory from Galicia. But Galicia still permits Austria to try to attack Russia, so Russian players instinctively block Austria from accessing it, without asking if that attack got worse from S01 to A01 or later.
☦ A lack of apparent plausible alternative targets. Again, Russia attacking Turkey just does not happen. And if Russian players aren't attacking Turkey, by process of elimination, that leaves Austria. And you're not going to make progress against Austria without taking Galicia. Hence, the move.
☦ A lack of apparent plausible alternative uses for the army. Somewhat of a consequence of the second point, but also notable that Russian players who are blocked from taking Sweden usually surrender the north altogether, figuring it's best to cut losses. Imagine if they got to redeploy an army north and had enough force in Scandinavia to pick a fight over Sweden instead of having to tap out and head home.

I think you're right that on the opening turn, blocking Galicia is too important. I like your sentiment of holding Warsaw to signal a willingness to ally, but I think if that's the road you want to go down, your best angle is to keep Austria out of Galicia for sake of preventing opportunistic disruptions of your capture of Romania, and then put your fleet in Romania in the fall and build a second one. I understand why Russian players are gun-shy about this strategy, because if Austria says "no thanks" and attacks you in 1902, then you end up with two fleets holding hands in Romania and Sevastopol, completely incapable of meaningfully contesting anything Austria does from that point forward. But I also think this is the only way Russia can put a stop to the endless jockeying over Galicia. Someone has to take the first step in presenting an alternative. And I don't think a single Austrian player will be upset if you move to Galicia again in A01 but build a second southern fleet, even if the Austrian player covered Trieste and let you take Galicia.


On the Austrian side, I think Austria has to block Galicia on the first turn, but if you're able to take Greece in A01 (in other words, Italy isn't harassing or attacking you), Austria can certainly afford to let Russia have Galicia. Even if Russia makes the worst possible set of moves for Austria (support army to Romania, move into Galicia, build another army in Warsaw), Russia still has trouble converting that position into gains against Austria without help from Italy. In fact, I think most Austrians moving to Galicia after S01 are probably motivated more by a desire to conquer Russia than by defensive concerns (though it's obviously nice that the first move in any anti-Russian offensive also plays defense against Russian incursions).


So maybe the solution isn't reconsidering the opening to Galicia, but how Russia views the board, processes information, and decides on its next step after the first turn. The default approach of "throw my armies at Austria until one of us dies so that the victor can win the grand prize of being annexed by Germany, Italy, or Turkey" isn't cutting it.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#7 Post by Claesar » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:09 am

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:52 am
...
On the Austrian side, I think Austria has to block Galicia on the first turn, but if you're able to take Greece in A01 (in other words, Italy isn't harassing or attacking you), Austria can certainly afford to let Russia have Galicia. Even if Russia makes the worst possible set of moves for Austria (support army to Romania, move into Galicia, build another army in Warsaw), Russia still has trouble converting that position into gains against Austria without help from Italy. In fact, I think most Austrians moving to Galicia after S01 are probably motivated more by a desire to conquer Russia than by defensive concerns (though it's obviously nice that the first move in any anti-Russian offensive also plays defense against Russian incursions).
...
Very good points.

Besides, Vie-Boh is probably stronger anyway in Autumn when you're locked into two builds. If Russia shows you armies in Gal and Rum, you build in Vie and Bud. If not, you can build differently.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#8 Post by rokakoma » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:27 am

Claesar wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:06 am
However, I feel we shouldn't discuss making Finland a supply centre. While an interesting idea, it just isn't going to happen. We can change the meta, but not the map.
We CAN change the map, we just don't want to :). Big difference. We could try it out on vdiplomacy, or elsewhere. I wasn't suggesting changing the "classic" map right away in the live, known-to-everyone environment and still call it classic.

However, making a more balanced map would improve the attractiveness of the game I believe.

Don't forget, the game and the map evolved over the years, decades. Some rules were added, corrected, to improve the game. It wouldn't be a sin to try something, prove whether it's better, and eventually change the map again, for the sake of the game.

While I agree that most, if not all, of the arguments listed by you and the others are valid points, the map in itself is not balanced (and never will be) which is fine of course. To solve that you can either have experience, or make adjustments towards a more balanced version. While understanding the game well comes with experience, learning, etc. which you cannot change, you can still change the odds derived from design imbalances.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#9 Post by Claesar » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:40 am

rokakoma wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:27 am
We CAN change the map, we just don't want to :)
...
Wrong. We can't change the map. Even if we tested it for one million games on vDip and everybody agreed it would be an improvement, we wouldn't change the map here. It's moot to talk about.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#10 Post by BobMcBob » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:42 am

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:52 am
Maybe the issue is less the openings, and more how we react to the information on the board.
This is a very good point. The bounce in Galicia is particularly useful in Spring because if the other person takes Galicia, you are immediately in a very bad position, forced to cover yourself and/or forfeit a build. But the bounce becomes less useful in Autumn. I think Russia really needs to take the initiative on this one, they're in the best position to. If Russia builds a fleet in Sevastopol instead of an army in Moscow, it will not only communicate a less anti-Austrian Russia, but also bring Turkey - one of the strongest gunboat powers - down a notch because it's quite anti-Turkey.
(Good work folks, just wait a few days and we may be seeing some changes).

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#11 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:43 am

Another observation I meant to make earlier: I don't think Russia benefits very much from most partitions of Austria in gunboat.

The conventional wisdom for Italian players is that they should avoid attacking Austria early, because otherwise the Russian-Turkish "Juggernaut" alliance will crush Italy after splitting Austria between them, and that Russia and/or Turkey will quickly reverse any gains that Italy makes.

In practice, though, what has Russia accomplished from triumph over Austria? Russia has Sevastopol, Romania, usually Budapest, and sometimes Vienna after the dust settles, but Turkey usually has control of the Black Sea as a consequence of tactical considerations in Autumn 1901, and without the ability to wrest control back, Russia can't leverage any progress made against Austria into a successful attack on Turkey. It's not impossible to take the Black Sea back, but squeezing out a fleet build can be tough for Russians in the middle game. And an attack on Italy strictly overland is unrealistic. Russia runs into the same problem that Austria does: without the ability to contest the Mediterranean, Russia's momentum from annexing Austrian territory stalls without decisive results against the rivals that the annexation elevated into major middle game threats to the Russian position.

Italy and Turkey both have a significant track record of success in converting early conquests of Austria into dominant performances, because they have the ability to contest the region by land and sea, meaning that the winner of their inevitable middle game struggle after conquering Austria will be poised to roll up the entire eastern half of the map. If Russia gets the upper hand on Turkey on land but can't take the Black Sea, Turkey can remain a viable annoyance until the endgame, and can even conspire to cut Russia out of the final draw, once a foreign power like Germany or England brings serious pressure to bear against Russia from the north and west. If Italy gets the upper hand on Turkey, it's usually fatal for Turkey.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#12 Post by rokakoma » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:46 am

Claesar wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:40 am
rokakoma wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:27 am
We CAN change the map, we just don't want to :)
...
Wrong. We can't change the map. Even if we tested it for one million games on vDip and everybody agreed it would be an improvement, we wouldn't change the map here. It's moot to talk about.
Let me rephrase, we can add a new variant, where Finland is an SC. Then the market (aka players) can decide which one do they prefer. If they prefer the new one, 20 years from now, it will be called classic :)

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#13 Post by mhsmith0 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:29 pm

Probably the best way to fix russia’s gunboat woes is for England to fight France early, or for Germany to auto let Russia into Sweden anytime ENG is vacated (since E/F is super bad for them both). Russia still stays a weak power but that drastically cuts down on how doomed it is.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#14 Post by swordsman3003 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:54 am

Y’all are over-estimating Russia’s ability to take Black Sea by force, and whether it’s even beneficial for Russia to do.

If Russia builds a second southern fleet, then Russia has 2 useless units instead of 1. The intention to attack Turkey is completely telegraphed and Turkey can usually block it or at least defend. The fleet has smaller offensive power compared to an army, since an army is a bigger threat if it gets into Armenia. The fleets have no defensive use if any other power attacks.

If Russia tries to lock down Turkey this way, the result is often enough that other powers deem Turkey contained and stop fighting Turkey; no gunboat Austria or Italy wants Russia to take all the Turkish home centers anyways.

The way to attack Turkey, as Russia, is to seize Black Sea by surprise — to just sail in. Wait for that opportunity. If it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come. If you get a fleet into Black Sea that way, don’t ever leave and support your armies and convoys against Turkey with it. Attack Turkey with armies. It’s unrealistic to fantasize about getting fleets into Aegean Sea as Russia in any match and an outrageous idea in Gunboat.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#15 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:28 am

Well, I doubt anyone is fantasizing about putting fleets in the Aegean Sea. Just the Black Sea.

I question some of the tactical assertions made. A fleet is worse than an army in Armenia, certainly, but as far as attacking Turkey is concerned, a fleet is just as good as an army in Romania, on the east coast of Bulgaria and in Constantinople. You have to do a little bit of shuffling your units around to get your fleets in Romania and Black Sea, since the most likely route to taking the Black Sea is supporting the Romanian fleet in, not the Sevastopol fleet; but it's not that big a deal, if Austria isn't also attacking you. It's true that this route is bad if Austria attacks you, but that's true of virtually any attack one power can make on another, if an uninvolved third neighbor simultaneously attacks it.

More importantly I'm not sure it's so easy for Turkey to just build in Ankara to counter the telegraphed threat (which I agree is telegraphed rather gracelessly). Italy's most common opening by a significant margin is the Lepanto. Can Turkey really afford not to build a fleet in Smyrna and ignore the threat Italy poses? Italy suddenly has a wide open lane to executing a successful Lepanto. Rather than triggering Austria and Italy to stop attacking Turkey, my concern with this opening is actually that you get into a race with Italy over the centers.

And while armies are better than fleets on defense in the abstract, since they let you project realistic counterattacking options if the circumstances change, if you are truly hunkering down on defense and support holding until someone else can break through, fleets are no worse than armies. Romania ends up as a frontline unit holding, which if you're holding is no different than an army, and there's usually a fleet in Sevastopol supporting Romania anyway. It's worse, yes, but not by that much.

I'm not saying any of these sequences are safe or easy or guaranteed, but the current track Russia is on clearly doesn't work, and we know from press games, where Russia and Austria can hash out their issues, that the Austrian-Russian alliance is very strong. These two facts suggest to me that there's something underexplored in the Russian-Austrian relationship in gunboat and that maybe some of our more conventional assumptions about how things "should" go need more careful examining.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#16 Post by swordsman3003 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:03 am

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:28 am
More importantly I'm not sure it's so easy for Turkey to just build in Ankara to counter the telegraphed threat (which I agree is telegraphed rather gracelessly). Italy's most common opening by a significant margin is the Lepanto. Can Turkey really afford not to build a fleet in Smyrna and ignore the threat Italy poses? Italy suddenly has a wide open lane to executing a successful Lepanto. Rather than triggering Austria and Italy to stop attacking Turkey, my concern with this opening is actually that you get into a race with Italy over the centers.
I stand by everything I said, and also question whether you have experience building a second fleet as Russia. I tried that many times when I was first learning to play Diplomacy (gosh maybe even back when I played on Facebook?) and realized how terrible a plan that is for Gunboat.

You say that Lepanto is the most common Gunboat opening for Italy, but the way you’re expressing that point makes it sound like you think Italy is locked into a Lepanto or will stubbornly do so regardless of what else happens on the board. I know you don’t really think that, which is why I question whether you have thought out or experienced the scenario you’re hypothesizing here. The strategic reason why Italy makes or threatens to make a Lepanto so commonly at the start is the danger of a juggernaut, or at least Turkey being the biggest threat. If that’s not true, why would Italy mechanically execute a plan based on that assumption?

If Russia communicates to the board that Russia is all-in on attacking Turkey, Italy now faces the serious danger of Austria allying with Russia — that’s the point of Russia doing this right, to ally Austria? So how does Austria understand that you are attempting an A/R alliance without Italy picking up on that intention, in Gunboat? Why would Italy send away units needed to defend against Austria if that comes to pass? Why would Italy harass the best counter-weight to an Austria/Russia alliance?

With this in mind, Turkey can absolutely afford to build a fleet to counter the clear-and-present danger of a Russia who locked himself into war with Turkey. Nearly all experienced Gunboaters react to to current threats over hypothetical ones. And even if Turkey doesn’t build a fleet to hold onto Black Sea, what I’m saying is that Turkey can block Russia’s advances easily. Your concern that another power would end up with the Turkish centers despite Russia’s efforts is a realistic one.
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#17 Post by swordsman3003 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:33 pm

I should add that I approve of this project and will add something creative and positive when it occurs to me. I’m not defeatist; we could improve gunboat and I think this is a very good way to do it.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#18 Post by naked » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:08 pm

I dont know why there is so much antipathy for Russia in gunboat. Russia is a fine country and doesnt need any fix. It has a unique starting position with a big drawback (basically it is split in two), but also some big advantages (one more SC at the start, already on both sides of the stalemate line). What Russia really needs is a good player, but that applies to every country.

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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#19 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:47 pm

swordsman3003 wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:03 am
Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:28 am
More importantly I'm not sure it's so easy for Turkey to just build in Ankara to counter the telegraphed threat (which I agree is telegraphed rather gracelessly). Italy's most common opening by a significant margin is the Lepanto. Can Turkey really afford not to build a fleet in Smyrna and ignore the threat Italy poses? Italy suddenly has a wide open lane to executing a successful Lepanto. Rather than triggering Austria and Italy to stop attacking Turkey, my concern with this opening is actually that you get into a race with Italy over the centers.
I stand by everything I said, and also question whether you have experience building a second fleet as Russia. I tried that many times when I was first learning to play Diplomacy (gosh maybe even back when I played on Facebook?) and realized how terrible a plan that is for Gunboat.

You say that Lepanto is the most common Gunboat opening for Italy, but the way you’re expressing that point makes it sound like you think Italy is locked into a Lepanto or will stubbornly do so regardless of what else happens on the board. I know you don’t really think that, which is why I question whether you have thought out or experienced the scenario you’re hypothesizing here. The strategic reason why Italy makes or threatens to make a Lepanto so commonly at the start is the danger of a juggernaut, or at least Turkey being the biggest threat. If that’s not true, why would Italy mechanically execute a plan based on that assumption?

If Russia communicates to the board that Russia is all-in on attacking Turkey, Italy now faces the serious danger of Austria allying with Russia — that’s the point of Russia doing this right, to ally Austria? So how does Austria understand that you are attempting an A/R alliance without Italy picking up on that intention, in Gunboat? Why would Italy send away units needed to defend against Austria if that comes to pass? Why would Italy harass the best counter-weight to an Austria/Russia alliance?

With this in mind, Turkey can absolutely afford to build a fleet to counter the clear-and-present danger of a Russia who locked himself into war with Turkey. Nearly all experienced Gunboaters react to to current threats over hypothetical ones. And even if Turkey doesn’t build a fleet to hold onto Black Sea, what I’m saying is that Turkey can block Russia’s advances easily. Your concern that another power would end up with the Turkish centers despite Russia’s efforts is a realistic one.
I think convoying to Tunis is as much a current threat as Russia moving a fleet to Romania. The situation at least seemed mirrored to me, with Russia and Italy both posing a threat to Turkey that requires a fleet build in response, and with Austria having the ability to attack either of Russia or Italy, so presuming that Turkey will always react against the Russian threat instead of the Italian one doesn't sit right with me.

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You certainly have a point that the follow-up is telegraphed though. In which case, is there a way to avoid telegraphing it? If Russia had to take Romania with a fleet, because it didn't have an army in Ukraine after the first turn, would that still set off alarms for Turkey?

I'm thinking of one of Russia's "northern" openings, where the army in Moscow goes to St. Petersburg, but the units in Warsaw and Sevastopol move to Galicia and Black Sea respectively, in order to bounce.

My guess is that Turkey would at a minimum be annoyed by the fact that one of the armies that "should" be attacking Austria has instead moved north, and that letting an annoyed Turkey bounce Romania is terrible for Russia.
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Chaqa
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Re: Let's Fix Russia's Gunboat Woes

#20 Post by Chaqa » Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:17 pm

What about a Spring 01 move to Armenia, paired with moves to Ukraine and Sevastopol? Turkey rarely moves to Armenia, and this would then put Turkey in a weekend positioned against Austria and hopefully allow a small chance at taking the Black Sea by a follow up to Black Sea in the Autumn while you take Rumania from Ukraine or Sevastopol.

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