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Subject: Diplomacy Game "roberts" Post Mortem rss

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Robert Martin
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This is a post mortem for a game of play-by-web Diplomacy participated in by a group of BGG users.

Here is a link to the game for those who may be interested:

http://www.floc.net/dpjudge/?game=roberts

France ruled the day in our game, taking the win in 1912. Congratulations to our victor. If you participated in the game, feel free to reveal your identity here and give your thoughts on the game.
 
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Jakob Bavnshøj
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This was one of the best games of Diplomacy I have played in years. Thanks to all of you, and a congratulations to France with the well deserved victory.

I had the honor of playing the power of Turkey, and as the only non-american player, i guess most you you have guessed.

Two things come to mind, when thinking about this game. First some of the brilliant moves the other players submitted (mostly France and Russia). I was suprised more than once. Second the high level of diplomatic involvement.

I will look forward to another game of Diplomacy!

/Jakob Bavnshøj, Denmark
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Flannel Golem
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I was the one lucky enough to be assigned France when I signed up. "Lucky" because I believe France has many natural advantages, balanced only by the presence of England hanging like a sword of Damocles over her head! So he became my natural first target right out of the gate (sorry 'bout that, E!).

I've really only had the opportunity to play a couple games of Diplomacy before (with humans -- I played quite a bit of a Mac implementation of Dip I picked up somewhere in college, but it was never very challenging... *sigh*). My first FTF game was as Russia, in which I trusted everyone and was soon ejected friendless from the game within the first few years... Perhaps it was that seminal experience which formed Delafour as the cynical manipulator of nations he has become. I'd really be interested in playing as Germany sometime, though, as that strikes me as an interesting and challenging strategic situation without quite the bleak, soul-grinding level of desperation I imagine the Austria-Hungary player must experience.

I think I was really helped out by two sites once I knew I was to play:
http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resources/strategy.htm - has an awesome collection of strategies for all seven of the game's powers. I first read twice through all strategies to do with France, and then proceeded to read through each of everyone else's to get an idea of what to guard against. I haven't since been able to relocate my favorite analysis -- it's probably in either the English or German collection -- but it convinced me that my very best possible first-turn moves were PAR-BUR and BRE-ENG

I also enjoyed reading through a showcase Dip game at http://www.diplom.org/Showcase/pouchtoo/ , which prepped me for the level of communication, dissembling, and studied affability that would be necessary. I just don't think I'm even *close* to charismatic enough to convincingly pull all that off in person, so I definitely appreciated the online experience.

I've written this elsewhere, but key to my game was the cultivation of cooperative allies. Germany and myself worked together quite productively early on; and when that relationship deteriorated, influence from Italy greatly helped keep things in the West under control. In the mid-game I wrong-headedly attempted to convince Italy to provide support to Russia in the Balkans, but luckily Italy didn't follow through, and that proved to be the turning-point of the game for me. I'd be interested to hear other's alliance experiences (or even tragic mis-steps) in the game as I could only guess what was going on behind the scenes at the time.
On a related note, France's was also the propaganda machine behind the erratically-released 'The Troubled Times' publication, which I had meant specifically as a tool to corrode others' faith in their potential allies while distracting attention from whatever France happened to be doing. I'd be curious to hear what effect it may have had, if any, since I didn't notice anything much.

But it was quite a fun and well-played game overall -- thanks to everyone who participated, and especially thanks to Rob for setting it up!

With utmost sincerity from your most loyal and devoted servant, devil

fendwick/Delafour
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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Hi all! I played Germany. Overall it was a fun game, although I felt at times it really dragged on as people missed deadlines, etc. I also found that diplomatic effort from the other central powers was sparse (Italy and Austria), which I think hurt my efforts, as we never really got coordinated.

Germany is always in a difficult position. In my experience her best bet is to ally with England against France as that helps secure a decent board-edge position. A French-German alliance is more often than not a losing proposition for Germany, as it was in this game.

Unfortunately I found England to be an erratic early partner -- I thought that the early French move into the English Channel could only be good news for me, as it would set England and France at each other. However England followed up with what I thought was a bizarre move into Holland, even though I offered (and would have followed through on) support into Belgium.

And things went downhill from there with our relationship. I had little confidence in England, and so had to cast in with France and hope that we could take England out quickly, preferably with Russian help.

I also had little confidence in Italy and Austria -- Typically those two will band together to wall in Turkey, but instead they both moved on me, which is not the greatest move strategically, and then got involved in their own little dance of death.

I felt the turning point in the game was when Russia, either deliberately or, more likely I think, due to crossed wires did not bounce France when he was moving into Edinburgh. This was coupled with my failure to take any supply centers in France when I had the chance. Since I had to lose a unit and France was gaining one, it was obvious that I could make no further headway. The best I could hope for was a stalemate, and it was only a matter of time before Russia would attack.

Thus I tried to patch things up with France and go after Russia, while hoping that it could be finished quickly by enlisting Turkish help (which worked) as well as convincing Italy to move against France (or France to move against Italy) which didn't work... In the end I was hoping that France would wait a turn or two more before stabbing me, so I could start to pick up some new units from Russian supply centers, but it was not too be. I think the key was getting Italy involved, but that never materialized.

I used to play tons of Diplomacy in high school and college (more than 20 years ago now) but haven't played hardly at all since. It was fun to get back into it.

Geoff
 
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Robert Martin
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I played as Russia. My goal was to try the "honorable and trustyworthy" approach this game. It didn't work out so well for me - I had some really good initial success and then my country just imploded after a very badly timed stab/policy reversal.

Here are some notes and impressions on the game.

Early Game
Try to establish good relations with all my neighbors. As an eastern power, I am always concerned about Austria so try to get my neighbors to take a defensive (or offensive) position against him. Austria takes GAL and I inform him that this is a declaration of war. I now have one power to go after "above the table". Work on Austria with Turkey.

Head north into Scandinavia. Establish good relations with England after an initial scuffle. Upon speaking with France, I can tell he is going to be a formidable player. Watch as he takes England apart quickly. England cedes Sweden to me. Establish good relations with Germany and set up a wall to hold France back.

Austria is very upset with Italy, so encourage him to suicide against Italy. Works out nicely as Turkey and I dismantle Austria from behind.

Mid Game
France helps Germany into England and expects to take Germany out as he has insufficient support in EDI. I decide to rectify that situation. Germany and I agree that I will bounce France and A EDI will be destroyed. This allows Germany to hold NTH and EDI. This works well for a while until I propose a very badly though out idea to France - I withold support from Germany, he takes Germany, and I take Turkey. I can't see how I could have thought this was a good idea, especially seeing how well France was faring against England and Germany. But I wasn't having luck getting Italy's cooperation in the south and Germany and I had missed a few key opportunities to communicate. The plan was set in motion which I feel was a turning point in the game.

Not long afterwards, I realize my mistake and decide that I need to stay allied with Germany (to hold back France) while going after Turkey. I move into BLA, a clear aggressive stance against Turkey. I also attempt to take TRI hoping for Italy's support. Italy does not deliver. Germany moves against me next season as a reprisal for my failed support - just as I move into Turkey. Very bad timing. Now my two allies are my two enemies. I apologize profusely to Turkey and withdraw from his country, but he's ready for war. Fighting on two fronts, my empire starts to collapse quickly.

Late Game
It becomes apparent that France is going to take the win. I decide to cede my remaining territories to Turkey in hopes he can take the win. Germany begins to see that dealing with France was a bad idea as his country gets swallowed by French units. At this point it becomes clear that France's lead is unassailable and he takes the game.

Impressions
Things went well for me early on. I was ahead until mid game when I made my big mistake. From there, things fell apart quickly because my positions were built on alliances more than they were built on tactical support. Since I had no alliances any more I was in trouble.

France played a very strong game right from the beginning. I made one critical mistake and that was reversing my foreign policy mid stream when I knew holding back France's expansion was critical. This turned out to be a very bad move. Support for Germany was key and I dropped the ball on that. However, I didn't have much success in the south convincing Italy to help me against Turkey, so I figured France and I could split the remainder of the map up (he'd take Germany I'd take Turkey) and then we'd duke it out in a big monster slugfest. Wrong!

Overall
Anyhow, I enjoyed the game very much and hope everyone else did as well.
 
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Robert Martin
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engelstein wrote:
Overall it was a fun game, although I felt at times it really dragged on as people missed deadlines, etc.


Yeah, I screwed that up when I had the game set up. The default reminder for deadlines is 4 hours, which really is not enough when you consider that sometimes deadlines fall in the middle of the night. I meant to have it set to at least 8 hours, but couldn't change it after the game was set up. Next time!
 
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Robert Martin
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fendwick wrote:
On a related note, France's was also the propaganda machine behind the erratically-released 'The Troubled Times' publication, which I had meant specifically as a tool to corrode others' faith in their potential allies while distracting attention from whatever France happened to be doing. I'd be curious to hear what effect it may have had, if any, since I didn't notice anything much.


I really enjoyed reading these. They added a nice touch of humor and atmosphere to the game. As for the propaganda aspect, I never could guess which country authored them. I don't know if that means the propaganda was successful or not, but it definitely added to the experience!

For my part, I authored the "words of wisdom" and also the "special dispatch" about Italy going sunbathing in Tunisia. The words of wisdom are, of course, from Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac. There are an amazing number of quotes in there that have great meaning in a game like Diplomacy. I tried to choose quotes that were relevant to the year and also would potentially influence the game in subtle ways to my advantage. The special dispatch was just a fun poke at Italy for missing his deadline (not that I can talk) and also to stir up a bit more trouble between Austria and Italy.
 
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Flannel Golem
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I must admit I was surprised (and relieved!) at Russia's offer of a lifeline to me just after Germany had broken across France's 'unassailable' Maginot in 1906 -- those were dark times for me indeed! I suspected he was stringing me along, confident that Germany would ravage my home SCs and was perhaps even fishing for what my defensive plans would be for the following season in order to pass the info on to Germany. Add to that I truly believed Russia best-placed at that moment to eventually take control of the world! But, R was the lynchpin of Germany's defense in the north, against whom I could otherwise make no progress, so I decided honestly to give it a go (I'm always honestly enthusiastic and well-intentioned when agreeing to a plan, God help me! It's only later that those poisonous voices in my head start whispering to me in my sleep! sauron In fact, Geoff: I remember waking up in a cold sweat the morning the Fall1901 moves were to come out, convinced G and E were plotting against me and G would support E into BEL...!). I made my best attempt to respectfully convince Italy to assist Russia in his Balkan endeavors: received I's ready confirmation on the one move but impassive silence on the other. So I did what any self-respecting politician would do: put the best possible face on it all, and hoped for the best!
To my relief, not only did G then turn against his erstwhile ally (not that I hadn't been strongly encouraging that course of action, I must admit!), but T too joined in the fray, putting an end to Russia's dangerously seductive social experiment with benevolent dictatorship! robot

robartin wrote:

As for the propaganda aspect, I never could guess which country authored them.


Yeah, I tried to take advantage of the fact a non-native English speaker was playing by sprinkling them with spelling errors and English spellings to turn suspicions in his direction. But it got difficult trying to come up with something funny or even interesting to say on such a regular basis -- and besides I was afraid my own voice was starting to bleed through, identifying me to Germany to whom I had most often written -- so when I missed sending one out right about the time Austria disappeared, I figured its purpose had been well-enough served and let it go.
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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Well, Russia had me fooled... As I said in my earlier post, I thought to the end of the game that it was a mistake, and not that Russia had stabbed me.

So that part was well-played, but I'm still not sure what the 'grand plan' was -- it seemed that encouraging Germany in the west could only help Russia while the Balkan situation got straightened out...

Geoff
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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By the way fendwick, I did actually receive your 'email of doom' after you stabbed me and threatened me with annihilation if I didn't do all the ridiculous things you said.

I crafted many responses, but none of them left any diplomatic wriggle room in case the situation changed, so I decided to pull a Jack Kennedy and just ignore the message and pretend I never got it...

Geoff
 
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engelstein wrote:
By the way fendwick, I did actually receive your 'email of doom' after you stabbed me and threatened me with annihilation if I didn't do all the ridiculous things you said.

I crafted many responses, but none of them left any diplomatic wriggle room in case the situation changed, so I decided to pull a Jack Kennedy and just ignore the message and pretend I never got it...

Geoff


Oh, I knew!
 
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Robert Martin
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Jocab wrote:
I had the honor of playing the power of Turkey, and as the only non-american player, i guess most you you have guessed.


You had me fooled!
 
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