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I posted this on another forum and realized in the process that I might have finally figured out what to do with the damn little green boot. Since "what do I do as Italy?" is probably life's biggest question, I thought I'd repost and get some thoughts. Share 'em here.
Italy, more than any other power, needs to pick a theater and go. Italy has to be in active conversation with all other powers to figure out the alliance structure. I used to favor the Austrian attack outright, all the time, because it was the quickest way for Italy to become viable, but the problem I came across was less the Juggernaut risk (though it did burn me a couple of times) and more that it didn't leave me room to meddle.
See, no matter which way Italy goes -- east or west -- it needs to keep at least one unit busy meddling in the other theater. Italy above all other countries suffers from elimination in the middle game, because it either grows slower than the other survivors of the early game or is otherwise too slow to resolve its chosen theater before a hostile power from another theater hits it. Perhaps the best example is in the standard Lepanto, wherein Italy doesn't even get a second build past Tunisia until 1903 (unless you're fortunate enough to run a Key). There's a spare army left to do things, and while the risk of a brutal Austrian stab is there, very few Austrian players look to stab as early as 1902-1903 (and those that do find themselves dead at the hands of an Italian-assisted Juggernaut in very short order). That army is then left with nothing going on and no reasonable stab threat to ward off. So what should Italy do? Talk to all the western powers and figure out the alliance structure, then throw a monkey wrench into it without any regrets. Go hammer Marseilles unless there's an Anglo-German alliance (in which case, go to Tyrolia and threaten to hammer Munich until Germany changes sides). The ideal situation for Italy is a Franco-German alliance against England, because it can then use the army in a way which hampers the progress of the western alliance without bringing French fleets into the Mediterranean too early. (You'd think Piedmont -> Marseilles would be a casus belli, but it's little more than an irritant to a France in alliance with Germany, as it forces France to keep both armies continent-side, to protect against a German stab threat and against the move to Marseilles. And you'd be surprised how much removing the convoy option helps England against France.)
Conversely, if the decision to attack Austria is made... you're gambling a bit more. You're primarily hoping on your diplomacy to keep the west at bay here, because while attacking Austria can be done while also keeping a unit to meddle in the west, Italy must not only attack Austria but do so with enough force that it can hold position against a Juggernaut and get Russia to switch sides and fight Turkey (or vice versa). Luckily, taking on the role of "sole defense against the Juggernaut" by removing Austria and taking Austria's place tends to give Italy the diplomatic break it needs. Still, you want to cook up some chaos for the rest of the board. Here, an Anglo-German pact is the best news for Italy, because this removes the most dangerous threat to the Austrian attack (intervention from France), effectively creating a corner position for Italy while it pushes its forces in one large successive wave east. An Anglo-German alliance is also bad news for Russia, who will find the Juggernaut substantially less attractive if it means fighting a strong EG alliance solo while Turkey gets to munch on an isolated Italian player. (And of course Turkey gets to choose between a distracted Russia and undistracted Italy.) Finally, once England and Germany take down Russia, it becomes far more inviting for the two of them to stab one another instead of combining against Italy. But even if Italy isn't meddling as directly as it might in a Lepanto, Italy must balance the western game in a way which keeps any western intervention at bay until after Italy intervenes in the west in force first.
If, on the other hand, Italy focuses on the west instead of the east, it still has meddling options (although these become substantially more restricted). I would almost always dive into Trieste if I'm thinking of going west. Sounds counterintuitive, but it makes sense. If you're ignoring the east to start, it's going to develop into a 2v1. In 2/3 possible scenarios, Austria has an ally. The army in Trieste ruins Austria's opening game even by itself and is a serious enough cause for alliances to shift that it's worth the risk of pissing Austria off while setting up to move west. And if there's a Juggernaut, then you can move the army to Albania or Serbia and create a de facto Key Lepanto, using the extra army to forestall Austria's demise until Italy has the units off of French conquests to take on Turkey and/or Russia. Best of all, though, Italy convinces Austria to allow Italy to borrow Trieste in 1901. Provided that Italy moves to Tuscany and Tyrrhenian Sea in S01, the isolated move to Trieste is not a serious danger to Austria. And provided as well that Austria can move unimpeded into Serbia and Greece, it only needs four units for 1902 anyway before it can probably force Galicia and Bulgaria (and eventually Rumania and beyond) and get plenty of builds anyway. Italy's army again becomes an extension of Austria's forces as before, but this time Italy builds two fleets... and suddenly, with A Pie/F GoL/F WMS/F NAf, Italy has the best anti-French position it can possibly have, and as soon as A02, as well.
The point is pretty well-illustrated in all three examples: Italy has to hop on a massacre in the theater it chooses to move into, and has to forestall the resolution of the other theater as much as possible. All powers have to do this, of course, and should try to incorporate these principles into their strategies as much as possible, but Italy and Italy alone is able to make this the cornerstone of its strategy and explicitly move its units with these principles in mind. France, for example, would love to see the Balkans in chaos while it mops up the North Sea sector and cruises to 18 centers, but what kind of intervention can France really do to accomplish this? England and Turkey have that problem exaggerated multifold due to their more distant starting positions. Germany and Austria are both also capable of putting units in a wide variety of places on the board, but they typically must focus all of their units on one theater because they're prime targets in the opening stages. Russia is forced to fight on two fronts and typically plays with a similar perspective as Italy with regards to the Scandinavian sector (and more broadly the west), but Russia also tends toward concentration on one theater (the Balkans) until it builds up the strength to concentrate with great force on another theater. Only Italy has the capability (given its close proximity to so many theaters), the security (despite its central location, Italy is probably the least attacked country in the opening game), and the motivation (lack of easy expansion path means Italy already has to settle for slow growth, which incentivizes intervening with the other theater to slow it down too) to make this method of thinking the basis for its strategy.
I think you summed up nicely what I had posted in other threads in that Italy needs to find out who is attacking who in the east and join the underdog in order to secure that sure-fire ally that will last a longer period of time and find that guy that's willing to see you get some extra builds because you're all he's got. I'd posted that in most 3-on-1 cases in the east, Italy gets the shaft in center division and when it's time to shift gears and attack a new nation, a western power comes from behind and attacks him.
Starting out west is a possibility but it's often slow-going, requires the efforts of Germany and England, and when it's all said and done, Italy has to dedicate to an alliance in both the east and the west to make things work in order to prevent being crushed in the middle.
I've found that when I play Italy, I often have to meddle in the affairs of the west to cause them to move slower and generally away from my location while in the east I have to simply gain builds. The more Italy has when an eastern power is reduced, the higher chance he has of finding an ally instead of becoming the next meal.
@Tru: I actually tend to think that forcing a 2v2 as Italy is a really bad idea. At best you're able to meddle in the west while doing it, keeping both theaters stalemated for no gain; in any other circumstance you're stalemated in YOUR theater while the other theater resolves, and then odds are Italy is on the chopping block of France or England next.
A 2v2 should be created... in the other theater. If that's what you mean, then yeah. You need a 2v2 in the other theater so they get bogged down while your theater resolves in a favorable 3v1 so you could then move on the other theater first.
@PE- I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading this and think it was glorious.
On a sorta related note, I just thought I should let you know that I blame you for single-handedly making the standard gunboat opening for Italy on this site an attack on Austria, which makes me not happy with you recently as I am currently dead as Austria in two gunboat games.
You know, ironically, that piece is the culmination of a move away from my preference for attacking Austria... I had Italy in a few games outside of webDiplomacy and ended up running a Lepanto and attacking west after taking Trieste, and in the process of trying those not-attack-Austria openings, I came to this.
The Spring 01 press is really hyper important in press games for Italy. you need to discover if Russia and Turkey are planning to Jug (meaning, keep Austria alive) or if one or the other will help you with Austria or if Austria and Turkey or Russia are going after the third so you can direct yourself at France. While France is my favorite for the win, Italy and Austria can be such fun to play with the challenges they provide.
I'm curious about the French opening. I've seen in multiple strategy articles and posts on the forum that the French opening is the best/favorite/preferred method of starting out a winning Italian campaign, but the numbers don't seem to play this out at all (per Tru Ninja's numbers, the French attack is substantially less profitable than the Lepanto or the two primary Austrian attacks). As Italy I don't mind an EG, so France gets checked, but I'm only attacking France in two cases:
1. There is an imminent EF alliance, in which case France can be expected to sail into the Mediterranean no later than 1903; in that case, I'm going to hit him in 1902. OR 2. There is an imminent EG alliance AND Russia is going to give England hell in Scandinavia AND the east is going to remain sufficiently chaotic. In this case, it basically morphs into a GI when Italy joins in, and I have a substantial chance of taking and keeping the southern trio of French centers, then moving on the east.
So excepting extraordinary circumstances or absolute necessity, I'm not fond of the western opening; I find it generally just makes France and Italy languish while others prosper, and leads to a most ungrateful middlegame elimination to Austria and/or Turkey. But that's me; a lot of y'all like the western opening and I'm sure y'all see something I don't.
Agreed. Italy and France almost always end up stalemated as both get to the stalemate line equally quickly. I alsways try to have a DMZ and keep it with France when I'm Italy and I return that favor when I'm France.
I think that if Italy is not attacking Austria, they should almost always go to Piedmont and bother France (which I guess is what you are talking about above with meddling). The problem with a full move on France, though, is that opening to Tryhennian Sea is such a tell for a French attack it's almost an unplayable move, but without it you can't convoy to Tunis and then be able to have two fleets, Piedmont, and a plugged NAf on France at the end of 1902, which is a pretty necessary thing I think.
Eden - very enjoyable post. Thanks for taking the time to write it up.
Personally I think the western opening is rarely a viable option. I do like the premise of trying to meddle in another theater. As a (typically) slower developing nation Italy cannot afford for other nations to grow quickly.
I favor a lepanto myself although an opening against Austria is viable given a strong alliance with Russia.
What games are you playing where Austria is ok with Italy in Trieste? I want to be Italy in that game...
Okay, so basically... What happens with the whole thing is:
(a) get DMZs in Tyrolia and an agreement not to move into Trieste/Tyrolia/Venice (b) inform Austria that Russia is going to Galicia (c) request support to Aegean Sea in S02
The implications are pretty clear -- Austria is facing a Juggernaut and needs Italy's help, and so will block Galicia and go for Greece.
Then you dive into Trieste, "misorder" to Tuscany instead of Venice with A Rom, and take a look around. Russia and Turkey see AI infighting, with an incompetent Italian (Tus), and immediately Juggernaut. Austria is fuming, but that's when you tell Austria that you made a bad mistake with your opening and you need to recover to handle the Juggernaut.
Austria can then either choose to kick Italy out of Trieste and get a build from Serbia, allowing Turkey Greece and thus to turn the corner in the Balkans... or it can trust that Italy, through its misorder to Tuscany, is not stupid enough to try to make an attack on Austria now, go for Greece as planned and keep the corner in the Balkans, allow Italy to take Trieste on the condition of building two fleets and using the army as an Austrian proxy unit to stop the Juggernaut.
And so then what? Italy has F Tun, A Tus, A Tri and 2 builds. Build F Rom, F Nap, and then Italy can easily have A Pie/F GoL/F WMS/F NAf at the end of A02, with the fifth unit wandering around keeping the east in a stalemate.
I realize this sounds like a rather specific chain of events, but it's really not difficult to sell. Italy dives into Austria early in the game often enough to make it believable, Russia and Turkey would certainly Juggernaut after seeing the S01 situation (especially if Italy campaigned hard for an IRT v A in S01), and what choice does Austria really have, anyway? The only real snag is if Austria catches wind of this and plays a Hedgehog or Roadhog, but if it does so, then it's honestly just as bad as if Austria decides to kick Italy out of Trieste (as it still denies itself Greece and allows Turkey to grab it during a Juggernaut).
So yes, Austria is most certainly not happy about Trieste, and is probably looking to get it back sometime soon (and when he asks, Italy should oblige the instant that Italy and Austria can afford it, in my opinion). But if you start out by intentionally crafting a situation that sets Austria up for a fall, you can come in and "save" Austria from its doom. And the best part is that even if Austria gets wind of the fact that you set it all up, and gets really pissed about it -- just think. Sure, you may have been the mastermind of the 3-nation alliance against Austria, but if you're also the only one actually moving in favor of Austria against the Juggernaut, then even if you seemed to be the one most actively out to screw Austria, Austria still has to accept your help. How can it not? After all, if it declines, you're still the mastermind of the kill-Austria campaign and can easily assist Russia and Turkey in killing Austria very quickly.
Fascinating thread. It makes sense when I read it, especially the shorter posts, but my brain just doesn't work this way. I am seldom able to plan out more than one season at a time, how the hell am I supposed to plan out five?! Part of the problem is that it sounds extremely boring and tedious, I enjoy not knowing what the hell is going to happen and just feeling things out to see where the game takes me. That's what I enjoy, getting to know the people in the game and figuring out who I can trust and who is going to stab me the second I take my eye off of him, and proceeding accordingly. Anyway, every time I read one of these threads it's like the first time I've heard it, and then I quickly forget it. Maybe next time someone starts one of these they could include some formulas, statistics or something else to do with numbers, that's the sort of thing my brain can latch onto and remember.
It's actually fascinating to me that MM and Eden have entirely different approaches to the game and they are both successful. Also amusing that MM doesn't like the sequential prediction past a single season but would like formulas and stats, which presumably would be use for... prediction.
Hmmm... I do better with the concept of trying for a 2-on-2 in the southeast versus a 3-on-1 in the southeast, compared to all the talk like: Italy should stab Austria if Russia and Turkey both vote pause before their spring 1901 orders get updated, unless England has voted to cancel and France tells you he will attack Piedmont and Germany hasn't sent a single message, WTF?
Suppose, being an architect, I like there to be a general concept that is agreed upon by people on the team, but when it comes to getting the damn thing built I want to put all the little pieces together in my own unique way. When all is said and done I'll get the thing built just how we want it, but the way in which we get there may be a bit different than others might expect and/or want when the alliance is first forming, but often times it's the journey rather than the destination that makes the trip one to remember.
"Italy should stab Austria if Russia and Turkey both vote pause before their spring 1901 orders get updated, unless England has voted to cancel and France tells you he will attack Piedmont and Germany hasn't sent a single message, WTF?"
Actually, in that case, Italy should open to the west as much as possible, plow into France and hold the stalemate line against an Austria who will sweep the board thanks to Russian and Turkish CDs. ;)
I share the thoughts of MM on this topic. I'm a lucky guy who went as Italy in my last 3 games. All of them, played a different way. In the first one, the best communication I had was with the Austrian player and thought he would be the best ally possible for this upcomming game, without even knowing him.
The second one, I opened anti-French but quickly found myself stalemated, just like the french player, so we agreed to a Cease-fire and looked into the possible alliances east and decided to go into a 2 v 2 with Turkey on that one. I just felt it was the right thing to do. Things got a bit messier afterwards because I was then opened widely to France, and that's where comes the idea of having a cornered position. As many players specified here so far, the big difficulty of Central Powers is the mid-game invasion your facing. Even tho I don't really like the Lepanto style of play, I think it's much better than the Austrian attack right off the bat because it will only make your units centered and then you just get sandwiched mid-game. I'm sure a lot of players can testify that as well.
In the third game I'm playing, I succesfully invaded France which granted me the opportunity to get a "corner" position and, thus far, I find it's the best Italy I've played (on this site, of course). But, as I stated before, always know whom to trust. It is, so far, the best strategy I found at this game.
True, but I was planning on holding the BUR-Bel line and just offering england support into Holland, and Munich eventually. At that point he'd be dandy armor against any counterattack - I just support -hold the two centers he got with my help and let him deal with Russia and Germany.
Oh I would have helped you, eventually, but I wanted him to suck up German attention while I ravaged italy. Italy was a much greater threat - in the short term you wouldn't have been able to aid me - and there's no point in letting anyone, even an ally, grow much faster than yoi
The point was that if you helped him into Holland and Munich, he slips units around into Denmark and rips up Scandinavia and grows really fast while you're off fighting Italy. Unless I managed to get into BAR/Nwy/SKA and support hold Denmark, England had me beat without your help, from what I could tell
First, he'd be fighting off not just you, but Germany. If G had NMRed I would have taken both centers myself and had plenty of units to finish italy.
Second, well.. It's diplomacy, dude. Are you getting butthurt that I'd put someone in a false position to keep pressure off me? Until Germany NMRed you were talking about making (temporary) common cause with English against Germany - that would have suited me fine while I dealt with italy.
Nah, because Germany quit. That was why I asked you to change directions and go after England, because we could just eat up Germany later. If you weren't going to let him into German centers, then that's all I was gonna ask. I just thought you meant you were going to let him eat up a CD Germany while you dealt with Italy, which would have sucked for both of us.
And no, not at all, I apparently got mixed up and thought you were going to help him eat up Germany while you fought off Italy. Which wouldn't just be a false position to keep pressure off... I get that and I think everyone tries to do that, but it doesn't work if the country you're trying to tie up manages to BEAT the person you're using as a stopper :P
I've read the descriptions on http://tournaments.webdiplomacy.net/ but I'd like to hear participants thoughts on them. Why do you play the masters over the Webdip leagues and vice versa. If I'm only interested in played one which one would you recommend. Thanks!
I recently played a series (11) games with some friends over the past month, and we decided to do them all as FTF games. There are all players for at least a month, so decently experienced. A few observations that I observed:
I suspect a multi accounter. How do I go about reporting them? I ask because my last query to the e-mail address never got a reply some weeks ago so I assume I must be missing something. Can somebody please advise me?