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Subject: Winning as Austria rss

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Barton Campbell
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I've played a bunch of games of Maria and it's really good. Actually, it's my favorite game at the moment. But in my gaming circle all of the sides have an equal chance of winning.

How to win as Austria
Create as many 8 strength armies as you can. Stack these full strength armies as soon as you can to form super armies. This will force your opponent to burn valuable cards without having to use any cards yourself. I've won many battles without using a single card this way. Then group all of your armies against one target (France or preferably Prussia but definitely not both and do not split your armies). Then don't chase Prussia all the way back to Berlin if you have him on the run. Instead immediately shift your entire army towards the French and kick him out of Austria (think Lee first concentrating his entire army against McClellan at the Seven Days Battles and then going immediately after McDowell at Bull Run). But if you get an opportunity to destroy France or Prussia's supply trains, do it even if it puts your offending army in an exposed position! The blow to your opponent will far out way the harm to yourself. If you battle with France or Prussia and you can lose by one or two, do it even if you've got plenty of cards in that suit. You will end up preserving your own cards and burning your opponents. This will also allow you to save cards for the political phase and for winter army builds (get them up to eight). By preserving cards for the political phase you will eventually be able to cripple both France and Prussia that way too. I've seen people burn all of their cards in battle and then have nothing for the following political phase. Major mistake. The Austrians have a general in the lowlands as well. Don't charge him towards the Holy Roman elector cites or southward into France unless you want to lose him. Let the Pragmatic army do that. Instead move him into far northern France so that the Pragmatic Army is between you and the French Army. If you can follow these principles Austria becomes a very strong player. By the way, though Prussia begins with the most cards, by turn 3 Austria will have received more than Prussia. And by using the Hussars a couple of more cards can be whittled off of the Prussians. So be patient, the Prussian advantage will quickly evaporate.
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Jason Curtis
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Couple points...if Prags and France are fighting over the north, slipping your general south, and even if you lose supply a turn or two, getting him to back-door attack Bavaria is very fun. Plus those southern French cities are quite attractive and close together. This even works if Prags go after them, just stay behind them. I also enjoy this strategy even if France/Bavaria stay back to guard because that eases the pressure in Austria to deal with the Prussians.

Another fun thing is to not be afraid of having your supply train venerable. Austria wants the game to last longer, and if Prussia or France delay a turn or two even to take care of a supply train, that's actually in your favor.
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Mark Luta
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I would certainly disagree with the general advice for Austria to 'make as many 8-strength armies as possible'. This may work well with certain opponents, but it is asking for disaster for Austria on the diplomatic play, since the needed cards have presumably been consumed over the winters. Additionally, since the cards used for building armies are shown to all players, this gives valuable intel to opponents as to which sectors you have weakened yourself in (and also can be useful for deciding trump, unless of course Austria can win all the battles, as postulated...).

Austria does indeed have to survive the initial onslaught and bide time to build up forces. However, recall that since an army point costs 4 TC, it must fight theoretically 4 times to break even. Now, this is not strictly true, since one can use less important suits to build the extra army strength, but then as noted the other players know the power is weakened in those suits.

Given the way the Battle VP system works, there are logical reasons for an army of strength 5 being the ideal, whenever possible. But one must be careful not to overspend on builds--in fact, when I play Austria, the more I see the other players building their armies, the less inclined I am to spend any points on army builds that winter. This will give Austria a tremendous amount of flexibility the following year, both in politics, and in choosing where to fight.

I am also a little unclear as to the reasons for not sending Arenburg to take the third electorate city for Austria/Pragmatic Army. France normally has more concerns with defending against the Pragmatic Army, and when necessary fighting Austrian forces in Bohemia, than spending the time and resources chasing down the Austrian Netherlands forces. Also, France must be cautious about attacking Austria early on in the same suit which Austria seems to be defending against the Prussian invasion through Silesia, as there is always the danger Prussia/Saxony will have excellent cards and might be able to simply steamroll Austria aside. France normally wants to be sure and take Prague for their own purposes, but sometimes it is even necessary to simply sit on the objective an prevent Prussia from taking it, if Austria is clever about positioning for the defense of Prague.

As far as the supply trains are concerned, one big mistake I see the Prussia, and sometimes France, players make is to attach their supply trains to their armies like backpacks, to prevent losses due to Hussar raids. This has the effect of slowing their invasions to a crawl, which as noted is what Austria wants. But Austria cannot simply ignore their own supply trains, once their own invasion begins. Those Austrian superarmies postulated in this thread will be stopped completely from conquering anything if the Austrian supply trains are eliminated. And it will take two or more turns to get it back into position for Silesia, and usually for Bavaria as well.

Another subtlety that plays in here is the game is not won by defending one's own territory. The game can be lost that way, certainly, but retaking objectives in a home nation is only really necessary to retake a useful depot city, or to prevent a win by an enemy. If Austria does spend most of their cards on army points, one possible Prussian response could be to burn all the Saxony cards against Austria, then manipulate politics so Saxony shifts to an Austrian ally--with no armies! Then, let Austria invade Prussia all they want, while Prussia simply takes undefended Austrian and Saxon objectives. Their real vulnerability is the single supply train, but avoid losing that and particularly once France reduces military objectives, Prussia should have an excellent chance of achieving enough objectives in Austria/Saxony before Austria can do so in Silesia/Prussia.

Then there are other consequences which result from overspending TC on army points. Such a move by Austria will allow Prussia to gain their extra army and another TC per turn by improving relations with Russia. And France should similarly be hammering on the Italy track to take a TC away from Austria. These political moves come with VPs as well.

In short, committing large numbers of TC to army points severely reduces flexibility on both where to fight, and what can be accomplished on the political track.
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Mattias R
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Great reply from Mark which highlights the interdependence of Maria's moving parts. I don't think there's "one" strategy that always wins - it's entirely dependant on the circumstances in the game you are playing.
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Barton Campbell
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markluta wrote:
I would certainly disagree with the general advice for Austria to 'make as many 8-strength armies as possible'. This may work well with certain opponents, but it is asking for disaster for Austria on the diplomatic play, since the needed cards have presumably been consumed over the winters. Additionally, since the cards used for building armies are shown to all players, this gives valuable intel to opponents as to which sectors you have weakened yourself in (and also can be useful for deciding trump, unless of course Austria can win all the battles, as postulated...).

Austria does indeed have to survive the initial onslaught and bide time to build up forces. However, recall that since an army point costs 4 TC, it must fight theoretically 4 times to break even. Now, this is not strictly true, since one can use less important suits to build the extra army strength, but then as noted the other players know the power is weakened in those suits.

Given the way the Battle VP system works, there are logical reasons for an army of strength 5 being the ideal, whenever possible. But one must be careful not to overspend on builds--in fact, when I play Austria, the more I see the other players building their armies, the less inclined I am to spend any points on army builds that winter. This will give Austria a tremendous amount of flexibility the following year, both in politics, and in choosing where to fight.

I am also a little unclear as to the reasons for not sending Arenburg to take the third electorate city for Austria/Pragmatic Army. France normally has more concerns with defending against the Pragmatic Army, and when necessary fighting Austrian forces in Bohemia, than spending the time and resources chasing down the Austrian Netherlands forces. Also, France must be cautious about attacking Austria early on in the same suit which Austria seems to be defending against the Prussian invasion through Silesia, as there is always the danger Prussia/Saxony will have excellent cards and might be able to simply steamroll Austria aside. France normally wants to be sure and take Prague for their own purposes, but sometimes it is even necessary to simply sit on the objective an prevent Prussia from taking it, if Austria is clever about positioning for the defense of Prague.

As far as the supply trains are concerned, one big mistake I see the Prussia, and sometimes France, players make is to attach their supply trains to their armies like backpacks, to prevent losses due to Hussar raids. This has the effect of slowing their invasions to a crawl, which as noted is what Austria wants. But Austria cannot simply ignore their own supply trains, once their own invasion begins. Those Austrian superarmies postulated in this thread will be stopped completely from conquering anything if the Austrian supply trains are eliminated. And it will take two or more turns to get it back into position for Silesia, and usually for Bavaria as well.

Another subtlety that plays in here is the game is not won by defending one's own territory. The game can be lost that way, certainly, but retaking objectives in a home nation is only really necessary to retake a useful depot city, or to prevent a win by an enemy. If Austria does spend most of their cards on army points, one possible Prussian response could be to burn all the Saxony cards against Austria, then manipulate politics so Saxony shifts to an Austrian ally--with no armies! Then, let Austria invade Prussia all they want, while Prussia simply takes undefended Austrian and Saxon objectives. Their real vulnerability is the single supply train, but avoid losing that and particularly once France reduces military objectives, Prussia should have an excellent chance of achieving enough objectives in Austria/Saxony before Austria can do so in Silesia/Prussia.

Then there are other consequences which result from overspending TC on army points. Such a move by Austria will allow Prussia to gain their extra army and another TC per turn by improving relations with Russia. And France should similarly be hammering on the Italy track to take a TC away from Austria. These political moves come with VPs as well.

In short, committing large numbers of TC to army points severely reduces flexibility on both where to fight, and what can be accomplished on the political track.
I'm sure there are many different ways to win with Austria. But the reason for my post was for an entirely different reason. What should someone do who can't win as Austria? A slightly different question. If you've got all of the subtleties of Austrian play, please follow any advise you can. But what does someone do who can't get to first base?

On the difference between 5-strength armies and 8-point strength armies. First, I don't think any particular strength is "ideal". Playing against different players with different styles will require different solutions. Believe it or not, I have been very successful with diplomacy and my 8-strength armies. How so? Retreat, retreat, retreat by a 1 or 2 TC deficit. Don't worry, with a 16-strength stacked army you're going to extract blood from your opponent. Then retreat when you have the opportunity. Look at your opponents face when you do that. Believe me they are going to feel like they just lost. In fact, they did. How so? Look at how many TC they lost and you've still got cards left for diplomacy.

On moving Arenburg to take the third electorate city for Austria/Pragmatic Army. If the French never go after Arenburgs little army, then by all means grab the third electoral city. However, if you find Arenburg getting repeatedly massacred by the French then keep the pragmatic Army between you and the French.

On not defending your own fortresses. Of course, you've got to eventually shift to the offense at some point. But if you're a player who can't win with Austria, you're not thinking about the next offensive yet. You're just trying to stabilize the situation and get a handle on Austrian play. Once you do this you can start thinking about all those other goodies.
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Mark Luta
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I often put 7 points with Arenberg, just to make that a tough army for France to take on for meager gains, in the early going. If that army is actually attacked and eliminated, then France has paid TC for almost nothing, and he can reappear in the Netherlands the following winter. Losing the Austrian supply train in the Netherlands is actually a much greater problem for Austria, as this forces Arenberg to either tie to the Pragmatic Army supply train, or wait in the Netherlands and then head for Bavaria later.

The two game-losing mistakes Austria can make early on is either (1) defending Silesia to the death, or (2) using insufficient forces to defend the Silesia region. (Be aware that on rare occasions, Prussia will get such a strong hand in the proper suits which allows them to simply steamroll Austria out of the way and win outright in fairly short order. In theory, the way to stop this eventuality is with help from France to actually send French forces to go sit on some objectives in Austria, but in practice this would take a fairly experienced France player to recognize what is happening and it is difficult to recognize early enough to position forces properly. But, as a last resort, it is something Austria can suggest to France.)

I have found for case (1) above that Austria, paradoxically, has an extremely difficult time winning following a successful defense of Silesia. It seems the resources expended against Prussia and the time tend to be enough to prevent a later Austrian invasion of Bavaria, something which is almost always necessary to result in an Austria win. Sometimes Austria can have an extremely strong hand in a suit where an army or two can sit and defend the last VP city in Silesia and keep bleeding the Prussian army with the Hussars, and still have enough force left to later, once a good hand can be built, strike back against France in the west. If Prussia does appear in danger of winning, sometimes a truce with France can be negotiated--often by that point the France player sees the time as opportune to reduce military objectives and concentrate against the Pragmatic Army in Flanders. But both players know that ultimately Austria is going to need to invade Bavaria, unless the winter scoring has been very good for Austria and a stalemate between France and the Pragmatic Army is likely to result in an Austria win. So, in general, it is my view that in most games, Austria should seek only to delay Prussia in Silesia, and not attempt to defeat them there. (This presupposes that Prussia sends all of their force into this effort--if Prussia is making only a minimal effort in Silesia, it is well worth defending if that is a realistic option for Austria.)

However, as alluded in point (2) above, it is important that 'delay' does not turn into a rout. Prussia starts with a lot of cards, Saxony as an ally and has no one to use these cards against except Austria. Wherever possible, avoid giving Prussia battle VP. This can be a challenge, since proper positioning of the Hussars often requires a general placed in range of an attack by Prussian forces (hence the 'optimal' size of 5 for many Austrian armies, it is difficult to eliminate and yet if eliminated still only loses 1 battle VP). Once it becomes apparent Prussia is unlikely to advance farther against Austria, both sides want to consider the truce. Prussia gains the VP and supply train, future problems for Austria, but Austria gains a great deal by Saxony becoming neutral--including the vote if the Election has not been held yet. The Prussian army before the truce is constrained by the single supply train, after the truce they have a second, but now the front along which they can attack is much reduced. So, the trick is (and a difficult trick it is, since the exact strength of current and future hands cannot be known) for Austria to send just enough force against Prussia to prevent an outright early Prussian win, and hold Prague if possible. Hopefully the bulk of the forces are available for a credible threat against Bavaria.

The obvious answer to someone sending 16-strength stacks is to not fight that army. Instead, send a small army around at the supply train. If the large army diverts against the supply train, the invasion is slowed anyway. Easier said than done, of course! But without supplies, no matter the size of the army, it cannot conquer anything.

As noted, there is no one strategy which will always win, one of the great strengths of Maria!
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Greg Low
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bartman347 wrote:
I'm sure there are many different ways to win with Austria. But the reason for my post was for an entirely different reason. What should someone do who can't win as Austria?
Your post is appreciated for that very reason. I have a sizable group of gamers that love Friedrich, but hate Maria because of Austria's perfect losing streak. More ideas are welcome, recognizing that mileage may vary.

Thanks,
-Greg
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Mark Luta
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If Austria is always losing, one possibility is the Pragmatic Army is never threatening France enough to help Austria. If France is able to throw most of their resources against Austria well into the game, and Austria is forced to try and defend against both Prussia and France, defeat by one or the other is almost inevitable. Austria definitely needs to work with their Pragmatic allies as much as practical, early on. This is also to the advantage of the Prussia/Pragmatic player since not only does it hurt the chances of the France player to win, but generally the Pragmatic Army has the best chance to win in early to mid-game. By late game, France has probably reduced objectives and simply standing on the defensive in Bavaria, and should by then match up well against the Pragmatic Army forces.

Usually it is key for Austria to work out something with the player then in 'second place' a bit before the third player actually wins outright. The ins and outs of how this can be accomplished are extensively discussed in other threads on this forum, but I mention it here just to point out something else the Austria player should be doing to win.
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jbrier
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I've probably mentioned this elsewhere in the forums, but to recap- in my first 10 games or so Austria didn't win once. In the last 15 games since then, however, Austria has won more than her fair share of games. How did she do it? Other than simply becoming better from experience, I think the biggest change was that Austria was much more diligent about going on the offensive early on. Rather than attempt a slow retreat and essentially weather the storm until hopefully circumstances changed later on (Austria getting a bigger relative hand size, Saxony switching allegiance, etc), Austria decided to not worry as much about defending but rather focus on getting around and behind enemy lines in order to capture supply centers. In hindsight this strategy seems obvious, as it leverages one of Austria's main advantages: a greater number of generals. You can leave a few generals behind to defend at key spots while sending others to go on the offensive. Remember- all you need to do is win one turn before the other powers were going to. In a nutshell- you can't win if you don't attack; don't get too caught up in defense and remember that ultimately getting behind enemy lines is a good defense.
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Mark Delano
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talrich wrote:
Your post is appreciated for that very reason. I have a sizable group of gamers that love Friedrich, but hate Maria because of Austria's perfect losing streak. More ideas are welcome, recognizing that mileage may vary.

Thanks,
-Greg


I think there's a tendency among Friedrich players to treat Austria as if it is Prussia in Friedrich. As a consequence they tend to play far too defensively and don't make the aggressive moves needed to achieve victory.
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Ippokratis Gnostopoulos
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bartman347 wrote:


On the difference between 5-strength armies and 8-point strength armies. [...] I have been very successful with diplomacy and my 8-strength armies. How so? Retreat, retreat, retreat by a 1 or 2 TC deficit. Don't worry, with a 16-strength stacked army you're going to extract blood from your opponent. Then retreat when you have the opportunity. Look at your opponents face when you do that. Believe me they are going to feel like they just lost. In fact, they did. How so? Look at how many TC they lost and you've still got cards left for diplomacy.


First of all, thanks Bartman347 for this excellent and useful post. Regarding your quote above i must completely disagree based only on maths: you army of 8 cost you a total of 32 card value; that is an army that could be eliminated by an extra 8 card from the opponents side.
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Ryan Keane
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civil wrote:
bartman347 wrote:


On the difference between 5-strength armies and 8-point strength armies. [...] I have been very successful with diplomacy and my 8-strength armies. How so? Retreat, retreat, retreat by a 1 or 2 TC deficit. Don't worry, with a 16-strength stacked army you're going to extract blood from your opponent. Then retreat when you have the opportunity. Look at your opponents face when you do that. Believe me they are going to feel like they just lost. In fact, they did. How so? Look at how many TC they lost and you've still got cards left for diplomacy.


First of all, thanks Bartman347 for this excellent and useful post. Regarding your quote above i must completely disagree based only on maths: you army of 8 cost you a total of 32 card value; that is an army that could be eliminated by an extra 8 card from the opponents side.


Yes, but the key word was “could.” I agree his last sentence is not technically correct - Austria won’t have more TC than the opponent. His point was that you never let the general take that big loss, instead stopping when you are at -1 or -2. Because you can only reinforce your army every 3 turns (unlike in Friedrich), investing in reinforcing to a 7 or 8 army allows you to keep absorbing losses between the winters. Repeated small retreats creates a big frustration factor for the opponent and allows you to possibly still use hussars to cost them cards. They might have a huge hand in one suit and keep trying to wallop Austria there, but she just keeps wasting their time. A strong hand is useless if you don’t ever get a chance to play it.
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Ippokratis Gnostopoulos
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Ryan Keane wrote:


Repeated small retreats creates a big frustration factor for the opponent and allows you to possibly still use hussars to cost them cards. They might have a huge hand in one suit and keep trying to wallop Austria there, but she just keeps wasting their time. A strong hand is useless if you don’t ever get a chance to play it.


That's one more thing i didn't get: if your opponent is really better than you on a suit he could outplay you, making you loose more than "1 or 2 TC". I know that's what i did last time.

e.g. i start with a 4 army against your 8: i play a 3 and then a 9. How could you possibly guarantee a small loss?
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Ryan Keane
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civil wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:


Repeated small retreats creates a big frustration factor for the opponent and allows you to possibly still use hussars to cost them cards. They might have a huge hand in one suit and keep trying to wallop Austria there, but she just keeps wasting their time. A strong hand is useless if you don’t ever get a chance to play it.


That's one more thing i didn't get: if your opponent is really better than you on a suit he could outplay you, making you loose more than "1 or 2 TC". I know that's what i did last time.

e.g. i start with a 4 army against your 8: i play a 3 and then a 9. How could you possibly guarantee a small loss?


There’s no guarantee (except with reserve), as it depends what’s in my hand, but let’s assume you have lots of cards in suit, and I have just 6,7,10. In your example, you’re currently up 8. I could go 7,10 but then I’m setting myself up for a potential big loss. So instead I just play 7 and stop, and take my 1 loss and you retreat me 1 space. If I have a reserve, I can always play it and choose the appropriate number to arrange a -1 or -2 loss (only exception is if army base values differ by more than 10).
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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This is why I hate it when I have only big cards in a suit. Small cards are exceedingly important to control the outcome of the battle.
It is highly critical whether you are attacking or defending. As an attacker, it is all about being able to propose a deal that the defender can't refuse (usually a defeat of 2). As a defender, it is all about being able to get away with a defeat of 1.
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