Winning as Russia in Gunboat

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BunnyGo
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#21 Post by BunnyGo » Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:40 am

RoganJosh wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 2:29 pm
What can Russia do? I don't know. I think that one of Russia's problems, in terms of turning the meta around, is that its position has a lot of potential. What I mean is, if one of the other powers give more space to Russia, then it's a very viable option for Russia to refuse the alliance and instead take advantage of the given space. Turkey gives you Black Sea? Convoy to Ankara and you'll have a very nice game. Austria gives you Galicia? Then take Vienna and you have a shot at all of Austria. England puts a lonely fleet in Norway? Build a fleet on the north coast of St. Petersburg.

It's a kind of paradox. Russia, in the meta, needs more options and alliances. But in any separate game, if a power offers an alliance, Russia can gain more from refusing it. I guess I just can't see the meta change in Russia's favor anytime soon.
I have an idea! Stay tuned to Swordsman's blog! (But I agree with *all* your points. I think you just overlooked the answer after ruling out all the impossible solutions)
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Doug7878
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#22 Post by Doug7878 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:16 pm

Speaking of Russia (and Italy for that matter), there is an interesting high-level classic gunboat in the works, for any of you who are not already spectating it :

https://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?game ... #gamePanel
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boylee
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#23 Post by boylee » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:35 am

Just putting this in here to see what people think.

http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=319421


I was seriously considering to draw after Turkey threw the game but then I thought.. Well one more win for me and one more win for Russia in GB, so I kept playing.
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Claesar
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#24 Post by Claesar » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:49 am

I think your solo was mostly achieved by (aside from your good plays) England allowing you to take and keep Mun/Ber. They had plenty of time to refocus but found it more important to kill France.

Thanks for making Russia great again!

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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#25 Post by boylee » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:53 am

Agreed. Felt bad for France though, they put up a great fight.

A_Tin_Can
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#26 Post by A_Tin_Can » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:40 am

Do you have any advice for Russia in full press? I'm playing a game at the moment, and it's not going very well.
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Matticus13
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#27 Post by Matticus13 » Sun Oct 04, 2020 4:42 pm

A_Tin_Can wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:40 am
Do you have any advice for Russia in full press? I'm playing a game at the moment, and it's not going very well.
Don't let Germany have Warsaw :banned:
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swordsman3003
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#28 Post by swordsman3003 » Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:46 pm

Hm. Betraying the trust of the one player who isn't betraying you is not so great a move no matter the power you have. :razz:

A_Tin_Can
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#29 Post by A_Tin_Can » Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:08 am

I feel like this advice might not be generic.

anlari
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#30 Post by anlari » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:08 am

Not having read the full thread, I just wanted to say that Russia might be perhaps the best power to ensure survival in a draw in gunboat.

All you have to do is eye an opportune moment to bum rush the German home SCs in the mid game. This is likely to succeed since Germany will be preoccupied in the West. Once you take Berlin and Munich, you can settle in at the draw line. Try not to lose your home SCs to Tur/Aus/Italy too fast if there isn’t an equivalently strong Fr/Eng and vice versa. With some luck, you end up in a 3 way draw.

Given that GB solos are rare, I think this is a good strategy in games where a draw splits the pot evenly among survivors :)
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CSteinhardt
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#31 Post by CSteinhardt » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:19 pm

I disagree pretty much on all counts.

First off, if you don't play for a win in gunboat, you won't win in gunboat. The goal with Russia, or any other power, should be to maximize your chances at 18. And second, your analysis doesn't hold up because Russia's basically the worst power to play for a stalemate with.

One of the great things about Diplomacy is that geography dictates that every country plays somewhat differently. With Russia, there are three key features that you have to account for in every game, roughly in order of importance:

1) Russia is really two countries masquerading as one. Tactically, Northern Russia and Southern Russia operate almost entirely independently, and in gunboat, tactics end up relatively more important than when press is available. This means you have an even worse version of the standard Italy problem: for Italy, the issue is that a new fleet is 3 moves away from both Marseilles/Spain and from Smyrya, so you have to correctly predict what the board will look like several turns ahead of time in order to decide how to position your fleets.

For Russia, this is worse -- the next Russia I see sail a fleet from Sev to Norway will be the first. And Russia cannot get to 18 without achieving fleet superiority someplace, nor can Northern/Southern Russia build more than one fleet per turn. In most games that you lose as Russia, it will stem from having tried to get this balance right and failed.

2) Russia cannot defend. I realize that sounds kinda strong, but try to draw a minimal stalemate line for a Russian position, and you'll see what I mean. A 6-center England or Turkey is pretty much around for the rest of the game in some capacity. An 11-center France is unlikely to ever drop below 9. And 11-center Russia is still at risk of elimination.

On the other hand, the same is usually true for your opponents. If you achieve numerical superiority at the point of attack, your enemies can't find a line to hold while they recover -- they simply lose ground. So the whole key to playing Russia is figuring out how to shift forces around so that you have numerical superiority in the right places where you can grow, while you have distracted opponents on your other borders who have something more profitable to do than attack.

Basically, Russia is almost exactly the country on the board which should least be thinking about finding a nice stalemate line to sit behind and await developments. Russia doesn't grow in a nice, orderly way; it grows quickly and messily and it shrinks very much in the same way. Your thoughts towards solid lines should be very much the same as Patton's towards flanks.

3) You start with 4 units.

This one's much less important, and does seem to matter less in high-level play. But it does mean that a successful Russia usually tops the leaderboard in the first few years, which can generate reactive alliances. And because a shrinking Russia tends to keep shrinking, that reaction can actually eliminate you, whereas for many other powers you lose a couple of centers and then suddenly there's less interest in rolling you back further. So, it's even more important as Russia to seek early-game situations where somebody else also look scary.

I think the summary is that Russia is probably the best power to try to solo with, because you tend to straddle most of the easy stalemate lines to find. But it's also a power that needs momentum, and where you can easily get eliminated even with 10 units once you start playing defensively (I can show several examples if anybody wants them). So don't try to bail out with a stalemate line, let your opponents worry about that and find ways to attack. If you're irrevocably losing on one front, attack elsewhere. If attacked in large numbers, you can't defend, so instead counterattack. And you'll find that Russia is one of your highest winrate powers.
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#32 Post by Peregrine Falcon » Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:55 pm

Totally agree with CSteinhardt. One thing to add is that statistical analysis shows that Russia is most likely to solo in the early game—60% of Russia solo come in or before 1908, whereas the other countries average around 1910. This seems to imply Russia does best with fast expansion, taking advantage of the general chaos and uncertainty of the early game.
(See TruNinja's interesting 2011 analysis of webDip game data.)

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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#33 Post by anlari » Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:54 pm

Fine points, but I often find that the early momentum is hard to generate - the moment you face a Ger/Eng alliance in the north or Turkey goes against you in the south, the odds get much worse. Then, as you pointed out, it is very hard to defend. At that point, I prefer to take the escape route via German home SCs.

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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#34 Post by anlari » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:20 pm

And I don't agree that the goal should be to maximize your chances at 18 SCs. The goal should be to maximize your expected points at the end of the game. If you can solo, great - if not, I would rather be part of a draw than get eliminated. And there can often be a risk-return trade-off there.
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#35 Post by Peregrine Falcon » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:43 pm

If getting closer to a solo makes you more eliminatable, I think you're going the wrong way.

anlari
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#36 Post by anlari » Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:03 am

Ok let me clarify my position a bit more. I am not saying you shouldn't try to go for a solo. I am saying if things don't turn out well, and you find yourself in a losing position, it might be preferable to settle in at the stalemate line rather than hoping for a miracle while facing very high likelihood of getting wiped out in 1-2 years.

Obviously, each situation is unique, but given the domino effect from which a losing Russia suffers, and relative ease with which German home SCs can be taken by Russia, I find that it is particularly well poised for the stalemate strategy. Also keep in mind that once you are in the above described situation, even if alliances shift and you survive, solo would likely be out of reach.
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#37 Post by jasnah » Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:48 am

Peregrine Falcon wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:43 pm
If getting closer to a solo makes you more eliminatable, I think you're going the wrong way.
Oftentimes strategies that maximise chances of surviving into a (small) draw will necessarily reduce or foreclose chances of a solo. Anybody who wants to keep chances of a solo alive will have to maintain position across the relevant line(s), sometimes by staying in a long term alliance that pushes far across the line well into the mid-late game, creating a more complicated and risky position. On the other hand, someone playing to maximise draw chances should fight until they have a strong position on their side of the line and no further, then more or less sit around and defend until a dominant power emerges on the other side.

I don't see how this would be a controversial statement.

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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#38 Post by CSteinhardt » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:02 am

The strategy that anlari is describing, though, doesn't really do any of these things. It's aiming for a large draw, and it's doing so by trying to prematurely collapse Germany in the hopes that people will be nice and just end the game quickly and let you grovel your way into a piece of a 5-way coalition or something. And, you're ruining the game of some poor Germany because you're not a good enough player to achieve a result by punishing your enemies instead.

There are countries that should be played cautiously, or where you expect to be stopped by a coalition. Russia isn't one of them. Being two countries in one actually is a perfectly good solution to some of the problems anlari posed while still remaining completely viable because you get to attack.

Face a strong E/G in the early game? OK, you lose StP. Encourage England to take it with a fleet, and in the meantime your Southern Russia can be completely viable with no threat to Moscow or Warsaw. When E/G eventually fight in the midgame, you might well even get it back, or alternatively work with England against Germany. And this lets you take every one of your units and attack as Southern Russia, and one which doesn't look so scary because you've lost in the north.

Face a strong Turkey in the early to mid game? Again, you can lose StP and everything that touches the Black Sea without being dead. Mos/War/Ukr is a perfectly viable line, and if Turkey is expanding, you even just hold Mos/Ukr and focus on the north. If you manage to get most of Scandinavia and 3 fleets on the board, you're going to be a player in the endgame regardless. And when Turkey is distracted, or faces a coalition, you might just retrieve Sev and expand southward.

And the key thing is, both of these give you not just drawing chances, but viable winning chances. I've soloed in both cases on webdip.

And if you face both? Well, that's one of the things about gunboat -- if your neighbors all want a piece of you in the early game, you don't have a ton of tools and you just lose. So you're going to lose at least 25-30% of your games no matter what you do. The question is whether you can convert the rest into the best results possible. And there's a good reason that this thread is from posters trying to figure out how to win with Russia in gunboat, not draw.

As for whether I'm giving up drawing chances by pursuing a solo every single time it's viable? I suppose it's hard to tell, but I did go back to look at my results in gunboat as Russia. I don't see an easy way to screen things (is there one?) and had to count by hand, but it looks like I'm at 38 games: 12 solos (32%), 14 draws (37%), 12 losses (32%). 2 of the draws were premature draws in live games, and 9 of the 12 losses were survives, although I don't really draw a distinction between different types of losses. Given that I don't think it's possible to achieve a result in more than about 70-75% of games in gunboat in the long run because of the early game, I think it's unlikely that I'd get better results by playing less aggressively.
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Re: Winning as Russia in Gunboat

#39 Post by anlari » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:04 pm

I think we are converging. I am primarily talking about a scenario where "you face both". And in my case this has led to three way draws, never 5 way.

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