Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

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swordsman3003
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Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#1 Post by swordsman3003 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 3:54 am

New guest post on the BrotherBored site, and I think this one is a masterpiece. Truly. Do not miss this post. Everyone who plays gunboat should read this.

Guest Post: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

And hey while we're at it, the third episode of my Diplomacy Dojo podcast is out, which is also about stalemating: Diplomacy Dojo Episode 3
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Peregrine Falcon
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#2 Post by Peregrine Falcon » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:04 am

Excellent, as always!

If I may add an additionnal resource, I found this index quite useful when first learning the incredible variety of stalemate positions on the classic map:
The Diplomatic Pouch's Visual Index of Stalemate Positions
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leon1122
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#3 Post by leon1122 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:13 am

Suppose in a hypothetical scenario that's definitely not happening to me right now, you're playing a western power in a gunboat game, you've consolidated your side of the board, and you've reached the main stalemate line. Meanwhile every single eastern player has survived up to this point and successfully put aside their differences to form their own stalemate line against you. Is there any way to avoid a 5-way draw?
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President Eden
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#4 Post by President Eden » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:20 am

leon1122 wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:13 am
Suppose in a hypothetical scenario that's definitely not happening to me right now, you're playing a western power in a gunboat game, you've consolidated your side of the board, and you've reached the main stalemate line. Meanwhile every single eastern player has survived up to this point and successfully put aside their differences to form their own stalemate line against you. Is there any way to avoid a 5-way draw?
In these strictly hypothetical situations, you theoretically could retreat to a minimum stalemate line with your centers. It could possibly be the case that these hypothetical players might elect to kill off the weaker unnecessary other hypothetical players in this hypothetical scenario. This is just one plausible outcome of many in this not-real-world situation.
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leon1122
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#5 Post by leon1122 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:53 am

I see. And by minimum stalemate line, do you mean a line with fewer than 17 centers? In that case, would I be purposefully giving up centers? Is there any example of such a strategy working?

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#6 Post by Claesar » Tue Dec 29, 2020 9:35 am

leon1122 wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:53 am
I see. And by minimum stalemate line, do you mean a line with fewer than 17 centers? In that case, would I be purposefully giving up centers? Is there any example of such a strategy working?
This is a recent GB where I gave up a couple of centres and some position, so a 5WD could become a 3WD: http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=317175
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#7 Post by jasnah » Tue Dec 29, 2020 3:08 pm

leon1122 wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:13 am
Suppose in a hypothetical scenario that's definitely not happening to me right now, you're playing a western power in a gunboat game, you've consolidated your side of the board, and you've reached the main stalemate line. Meanwhile every single eastern player has survived up to this point and successfully put aside their differences to form their own stalemate line against you. Is there any way to avoid a 5-way draw?
A 5-way draw is an excellent and proper result. I vote that you accept the draw.

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#8 Post by swordsman3003 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 6:30 pm

To achieve a high solo win rate, you must vote draw only as a last resort. There are plenty of ways to shake things up in a match that superficially appears stagnant.

When I am stalemated as the dominant power, I often pull back to see if the match will keep going. I am not interested in whittling the draw per se, but I am interested to know if other players are. Allllll sorts of stuff can happen when the defenders turn on each other. The draw size might be reduced, the players might make a mistake that allows me to solo, or someone might decide to throw the match to me in frustration. All three of those outcomes happen, and they happen fairly regularly. Therefore, I take the extra time to pull back and see what happens (and if it is a gunboat game, I'll try to send some signals with my pieces indicating I want the match to continue).

Also: I've reviewed more than 100 matches—perhaps far more—with players I've mentored. I've observed many occasions in which they (or another player) agreed to a draw based on a misperception that the match had been stalemated. In this thread, we can't review hypothetical (or ongoing, actual) games. But I say, think very hard about whether you are in fact stalemated (compare your the situation to the maps in Seren's article). I've have known players who threw away guaranteed solo wins just because they didn't fully think through the tactical situation.
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#9 Post by leon1122 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 11:14 pm

Claesar wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 9:35 am
leon1122 wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:53 am
I see. And by minimum stalemate line, do you mean a line with fewer than 17 centers? In that case, would I be purposefully giving up centers? Is there any example of such a strategy working?
This is a recent GB where I gave up a couple of centres and some position, so a 5WD could become a 3WD: http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=317175
That was quite nicely done. I think I might try that strategy. I enjoyed reading Italy's lectures as well.

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#10 Post by leon1122 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:31 pm

I listened to everyone's advice and ended up getting more than I bargained for after 15 years of quasi-stalemate in this hypothetical game. For reference, I posted my question in this thread in 1909.
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#11 Post by leon1122 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:39 pm

On a tangential note, I was looking at swordsman's solo win plan for Germany, and it doesn't make sense to me that Germany is shown as never needing Tunis to solo and always needing Warsaw. If you go with the generic Western power strategy of taking out your neighbors and sneaking 1 more center like I did, Tunis seems like a rare but viable target.

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#12 Post by jasnah » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:47 pm

Those maps don't cover 100% of cases. The list of exceptions to just about any substantive Diplomacy article would be longer than the article itself, which is why most writers leave such as an exercise for the reader.

Against competent opposition, the MAO bottleneck makes it almost impossible for Germany to ever capture Tunis as an 18th because the Mediterranean power(s) will block it up before Germany gets anywhere near. However the opposition is often incompetent and so Tunis is not out of the question; it's rather a flex to solo with Tunis as Germany much in the way that soloing with Norway as Italy or Austria is a flex.

I suppose here was a not entirely dreadful game where Germany soloed with Tunis. https://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?game ... #gamePanel
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#13 Post by jasnah » Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:54 am

Just looked at the game that was linked. Astounding. Totally disgraceful endgame play.

I don't like killing Russia, but if you have to, fine, take him out, whatever, you can get 3 more points. After that it was abundantly obvious that neither Austria nor Turkey would have been able to kill the other especially since Turkey takes Greece, for his own safety..Austria decides to retaliate from a position where he can't be killed by blowing the stalemate line at Munich and Berlin, which he 100% had if he had just moved units up, so that he can lose instead of draw.

Tunis was of course not needed in the draw, and it makes sense for Turkey to concede it to take Greece so that Austria who had already showed himself to be greedy would for sure be unable to take him out. This applies doubly if Austria wanted to kill Italy for a 3wd, how could they ever accomplish that without making Turkey the Med power, and so giving him the extra fleet build he needed?

Look at S23: Germany had lost Berlin and Munich; they were stalemated from the south. His solo chances were none. Zero. Austria moves to Prussia and Livonia, all hold, still leaves him 2 units to defend against Turkey. Instead Turkey and Austria jointly decide to throw the game outright, mostly Austria but Turkey is hardly innocent in S24: At that point Turkey has a completely impregnable position against Austria if he just all holds. Armenia hold, Con hold, Aegean hold, Ionian hold. Austria has one fleet in Bul sc and no way to get any more builds, how is he ever going to kill Turkey? If Austria tries to take any more SC off Turkey then Turkey can assault in force, and assuredly the game will be thrown to Germany, so it's a case of mutually assured destruction where Turkey has enough leverage on 4 SC. Taking Bulgaria with the army is very poor form. I doubt it would have been enough in this case, but taking it with the fleet might have been enough of a signal that Turkey needed to be the Med power and had no designs on the Austrian heartland, and so prevented the catastrophe that immediately followed.

We come to the worst turn: A24 orders moving units back from both Silesia and Bohemia are a resignation. From his post game comments it appears that Austria does not know he had a stalemate at Munich and Berlin, and thought the game was thrown when Turkey took Greece, which is laughably wrong.

Listen up: if you're the strongest power holding the line, the onus is on YOU to make sure that your neighbours are not threatened. You're the one with the power of life and death over them, and as such, you're the one responsible for assuring them that they're safe. And considering that you have resources to spare, you're certainly the one who's responsible for writing the minimum orders to secure the draw!

This kind of play will incentivise more people to do what Germany did this game, just never draw and wait for the defenders to self-cannibalise. It's terrible manners in my view, but if you have such a decent shot at a solo out of it I really can't fault people for doing it.

I would be livid if this were one of my games, play 24 years and it all gets tossed into the void. I hope this is taken as an opportunity to learn.
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#14 Post by jasnah » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:04 am

Oh, and Germany made many bizarre decisions that looked like he wanted Austria to solo instead as well, which makes it even more shocking that it was Germany who soloed in the end.

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#15 Post by leon1122 » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:41 am

I agree completely with your first assessment and made many of the same points in my post-game commentary. Can you point to any moves that made it look like I was going to give Austria the solo? I could safely give away St. Petersburg, Munich, and Berlin since there are 3 Turkish home centers that Austria would never be able to penetrate without building a fleet and taking out Italy first, which would telegraph an attack on those centers well in advance. As for Kiel, I could take it back at any time. Those are the only 4 centers that I ever put on the menu.

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#16 Post by Strauss » Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:56 am

Does anyone know stalemate lines for the map World Diplomacy IX (17 Players)?

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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#17 Post by captainmeme » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:17 pm

There are tons!

It's not seen much in classic, but a telltale sign of stalemate lines in a variant are many small provinces bordering one large one. In World Dip IX, the sea provinces are exactly that - there's a stalemate line around basically every continent, because most sea provinces have between four and eight coastal provinces able to defend them and only one or two sea provinces they can be attacked from.
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#18 Post by captainmeme » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:25 pm

Here's one for Africa, for example:

https://i.imgur.com/VIZDqGi.png
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#19 Post by Bonatogether » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:27 pm

Which is why seazones are better for the mega maps
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Re: Gunboat Diplomacy Stalemate Lines

#20 Post by jasnah » Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:16 pm

leon1122 wrote:
Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:41 am
I agree completely with your first assessment and made many of the same points in my post-game commentary. Can you point to any moves that made it look like I was going to give Austria the solo? I could safely give away St. Petersburg, Munich, and Berlin since there are 3 Turkish home centers that Austria would never be able to penetrate without building a fleet and taking out Italy first, which would telegraph an attack on those centers well in advance. As for Kiel, I could take it back at any time. Those are the only 4 centers that I ever put on the menu.
Munich and Berlin are stalematable and indeed he had them if he'd not moved away, so you would be giving those away forever; against a competent Austria Germany never builds again, and has to consider the non-zero chance that Austria will be able to hold on to those two while mopping up everything in the south. He doesn't need Tunis – you can take that, fully defend that, and as long as he gets all of Italy and Turkey, Austria solos.

It looks unlikely if Italy and Turkey fight back, but it's not impossible, especially if Austria gets Stp and Kiel which give him a. a much bigger margin of error, as any counterattack from Germany will take time and resources, and b. more importantly, surplus builds which are not needed to defend vs Germany and so can be used to fight Italy and Turkey.

I'm not saying it was probable that Austria would overwhelm Italy and Turkey. However, it's not a trivial assumption that Italy and Turkey are able or, indeed, willing to fight back with full force. By ceding not just Munich and Berlin but then offering Kiel and Stp, Germany telegraphs even to the most generous Italian that he wants him dead (and to the less charitable ones, that he's an idiot – which will hardly earn him favours). And if Germany is willing to stand by, then Italy is dead either way. There are Italians, in such position, who would do everything in their power to ensure that Austria got the solo, so that Germany – whose actions were what allowed Italy to be killed – wouldn't profit. Can Germany salvage it if a committed Italy works 100% for the Austrian solo? I doubt it. Maybe you'll get away much more often with doing what you did in public games, but many of the people I regularly play with can and will absolutely give Austria a solo.

Also, it's an elementary error of thinking that many players make, that just because x will see an attack coming from a mile away, the attack won't succeed. Well yes, Turkey would have seen the attack coming, but if Austria came for him after getting the Italian builds – which he would have gotten if Italy were stupid or vindictive – he wouldn't have been able to do shit. If you're 2 SC and I have 15 SC around you, and come to encircle you, nobody cares if you jump up and down screeching that you can predict my exact orders, I'm still going to kill you. If Italy had wanted, Austria would have had such a position, and you could have done nothing, as Munich and Berlin were locked behind a stalemate and there was no way you would get through the Ionian.

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