In this game, I unfortunately drew England which is unfortunately my least favorite country to play. Personally I don’t like how the western triangle almost always leaves one man out without any other countries being particularly interested in disrupting that balance. For England, that often means fighting a long but ultimately hopeless defensive war. Hence, my primary objective in early negotiations was not being left as the odd man out.
As is my typical style, my opening messages were generally thematic and friendly. Germany and France both responded in kind and seemed like capable allies. Italy and Turkey offered friendly messages as well, while Austria and Russia were slightly more terse. Going into the game, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of who the best ally would be based on press alone.
Given the friendly relations so far, I didn’t have any clear enemy. My preferred strategy as England is to ally with Germany against France to start (often followed by crushing Germany with Russia’s help), but I didn’t want to commit to this until getting more of a sense of the play styles. Hence, I opted for a neutral opening which could cover London in the event of betrayal but still leave room to convoy into either Norway or Belgium.
Fortunately, France didn’t move to the channel and the west remained neutral in 1901. I was fortunate to be able to convoy into Belgium for a toehold on the continent and Russia remained on good terms with me. Looking at the openings, I really appreciated France’s strategic choice. Par-Por and the Marseilles bounce is one of my favorite openings as France and he did a good job executing it—amongst the players, France seemed like the strongest possible ally.
The east was much more of a mess with Austria making an atrocious opening into Rum. This unfortunate opening gave the obvious Juggernaut all the room it needed to get rolling.
By 1902, it was clearly a juggernaut (despite Turkey’s attempt to hide it with F(Ank)) and Austria’s tactical weakness would see him die soon. We opted to form a Western Triple which despite my usual hesitation around triple alliances seemed like the only good option. Much ink has been spilled on the dangers to Germany in a Western Triple but in this situation I truly don’t think Germany had any real alternative. If he attempted to get a Sealion going with Russia and France, the Juggernaut would’ve been marching into Munich in no time (again, Germany got relatively screwed by being paired with a weak Austria). His best chance of success was to go with the Western Triple and try to come up on the right side when it inevitable dissolved.
In negotiations, I managed to convince Germany to not build any fleets. This is sound (he doesn’t need them against Russia) but also gave me a good measure of security. If he and France did stab me I could push my full naval power south to fight the threat.
Tactically, France moved gradually into the Med while Germany and I swiftly crushed Russia’s northern forces. In my mind, this is the biggest danger of a juggernaut for Russia—unless there is discord in the west, England and Germany can unite to crush you far too easily. Hence my preference is to only play the juggernaut if there’s obvious hostility between the western powers or we can keep it well-disguised.
Despite our success so far I decided to defer my build. My allies had asked me to do this and I also liked the option of being able to have a potential fleet build to fall back on if/when France stabbed me. I’m always willing to defer a build if it makes sense. Most of this year was spent on positioning, with France absorbing Italy and my continental army taking over Moscow.
There was some kerfuffle over my move to NAO but it was truly a purely defensive move. I felt the vulnerability of my southern spaces clearly and wanted to make France see it wouldn’t be too easy to stab me. Ultimately we settled the score and landed my fleet in Clyde for protection.
Turkey continued to profit from Austria’s weak moves and found himself in a strong position.
Our Triple made steady progress and I absorbed the last of Russian territory in Sev. At this point, I had begun overtures to Turkey and explained the possibility of working together once the Triple inevitably dissolved. Unfortunately these negotiations didn’t go as far as I would have liked—Turkey never seemed a very easy player to work with.
I began to discuss the possibility of stabbing the other with both France and Germany. Unsurprisingly, they both were open to the possibility though France provided far more detailed plans. It was clear that if I allied with Germany I’d be providing the bulk of the tactics.
Ultimately, I decided to ally with France. This was the defining decision of the game and is almost certainly why I didn’t top the board. Truthfully, my decision was threefold: (1) France was a stronger player and I foolishly wanted a worthy opponent in the endgame, (2) Turkey’s continued fleet presence in the Mediterranean ensured that France would never be able to fully commit to a war against me, (3) My eastern army could successfully pincer Germany so long as Turkey could be kept relatively neutral.
Tactically, I continued to consolidate my position in the east. One miscalculation was not attacking Rum when I could have. It would’ve given me an additional build and weakened Turkey. I incorrectly thought my peaceful actions would buy me a friend later and Turkey remained a viable player in the east—meaning I was never able to fully commit against Germany. This also pissed Germany off unnecessarily early. France pulled MAO back per our agreement and we did an arranged bounce in NAO.
This turn is when things truly fell apart for me. France sneakily moved into ENG even as I prepared my navy to surround Germany.in Denmark and Sweden. I had incorrectly assumed France wouldn’t stab their ally immediately after forming the alliance and this miscalculation gave him the upper hand for the rest of the game.
In retrospect, I wish I had worked with Germany and fully expect I could have topped the board if I had. Germany never had a navy to compete with me and we could’ve crushed France with ease. Most worryingly, I never managed to salvage my relationship with Turkey to the point where we had an effective alliance.
By the end of the year, France had managed to gain 2 new builds while I had none and was down an ally.
At this point, I had a decision to make—try to salvage the situation and turn on France with Germany’s help or hope for eventual Turkish cooperation against France. Unfortunately I assumed that Germany would never trust me again and decided to stick with the original plan of working against him. Additionally, at this point France indicated he wouldn’t be able to play the next game—meaning I could safely play for second place if I knew France would take first.
Naturally, I was still very upset with France (and negotiations got tense), but i didn’t see any other option besides working with him at the moment.
I also misordered Sweden at a critical juncture and was unable to take Denmark until the fall—giving France essentially the entire German mainland. Germany accelerated this by suiciding into me.
Germany continued to suicide into me (to a much greater extent than I expected) while France was able to keep my navy at bay. With a massive disparity in builds, it was clear that he was close to solo unless Turkey and I took decisive action. Fortunately Turkey finally recognized this and started to trust me by moving into Austria and leaving Sev.
France continued to make tactically strong plays which left me on the defensive. I was unable to find any real hole in his defenses and resigned myself to the possibility of playing for second place. My priority became finding a way to go from third to second place.
At this point, France offered to de-escalate things and we guaranteed he would not play the next game. I was still negotiating with Turkey but his attitude continued to frustrate me. In particular, he was reluctant to help me take Vienna (claiming he was doing all the work for little gain, despite the fact that an additional northern fleet would benefit both of us). At this point I decided to work with France to draw the game to a swift conclusion with me in second place. Tactically, I prepared for an attack on Sev while defending the English homeland.
France graciously offered to let me take Vienna so I could get another build and equalize the center count with Turkey. I was also able to put my full army into the fight against Turkey while retaining a defensible border with France.
All that remained was cutting Turkey down to 9 centers so I could take second place. We found an opening in Trieste and took it, drawing in the winter.
Overall, this was a fun game. I regret choosing to ally with France for the “challenge” and feel confident that I would have topped if I’d chosen Germany instead. Germany’s decision to suicide into me and France’s promise to forego the finals also definitely changed the game dynamic—if that hadn’t been on the table, I would’ve much more closely with Germany and Turkey to cut down France. Ultimately, I think this was the best outcome for the given game dynamic.
Coming into the tournament my grand ambition was simply to have an enjoyable game. Never have I participated in a tournament before, so my plan was to hold my own and not get eliminated. Normally I would enter the game with the intention to solo, but I thought all the players would be experienced and a solo would be hard to achieve.
When I drew France I was elated, my first solo victory was achieved as France and I love the flexibility it offers. Unless one allows himself to be blitzed by three neighbors in '01, one should have a comfortable game for a while.
On the other side of the board was a player in Russia with whom I had a spat on discord so my primary goal was to survive longer than him, cause I'm a petty bastard.
As BrotherBored suggests, the most natural way for France to achieve the elusive solo (in gunboat!) is to enslave England, cut through Germany, get a taste of Scandinavia and finally acquire Tunis. Obviously that sounds easier than it is because for that to happen I'd need a strong AI that is focused on Turkey, Germany who hates England and Russia, and Russia who is slow in growth but willing to challenge England in the north.
My opening was decided before even talking to anyone, I always ask Germany to bounce Burgundy, if the German does not want to waste a tempo then I'll enter Burgundy myself (announced) and see what Germany has to say in the fall. If I don't like what I hear he gets nothing from me, if I do I'll support him in Belgium.
My calculation for this opening is that even if Piedmont and EngChann comes, without Germany in Burgundy they can go F themselves and I'll survive long enough to make other countries attack them from behind, and the counter is on. So vive le France! Nevertheless, I am of belief that this game stands above others because of the importance of communication, so I started to speak extensively with everyone who would reciprocate, even with my Russian nemesis.
England was worried and uneasy about the channel, I did not want to waste any time on bouncing there, thankfully he realized I'm honest about it so he opened to Nwg and Nth. I also portrayed my arranged bounce with Germany as a way to ensure he will get Belgium. That is of course true, but the reason I wanted the bounce was entirely because of my defense. Also, I made sure that bounce is advertised to Italy as well so that Piedmont will be less likely to happen.
Germany was easy going, he accepted the bounce, did not like Belgium in the hands of England but he went with it anyway. I tried to make him open to Holland with his fleet, but he opened to Denmark and I am happy he chose that opening because I also failed to convince Russia to open north. If Russia is not interested in going after England immediately, I advocate a bounce in Sweden. Why? Because I did not get what I want, simple. And of course, to make Germany think about his eastern front.
Italy was very cautious with me, I practically wrote poems about Franco Italian relationship but he refused to get smitten by my charm, and I had to accept that there will be no ''Tunis for the 18th!'' possibility. Turkey asked me for info and offered to reciprocate. I told him 95% of what I know because why not, and asked him about any info on Russia/England relationship, he gave me nothing. At least make shit up people, and then pretend you were fooled when the moves come in.
The Austrian opening angered me, as it was probably the attempt of the new AT meta that is rising, but Turkey opened the old fashioned way, which means Austria will burn if he is not a skilled and persistent diplomat. Since he did not say anything to me before the spring, somehow I knew he wouldn't be able to get out of this mess.
I started implying the juggernaut immediately after the spring 01 moves, jugg fear mongering is still an effective tactic, and that is also a way to create enemies of Russia. Still I tried to make Turkey support hold Austria in Rumania but he declined (logically) and went for Greece in the fall.
Italy grabbed Tunis, England took Belgium (convoy) and Norway, while Germany bounced Russia out of Sweden.
I was very proud of my opening and the convoy to Portugal from Gascony, but then I found online that its a known opening so I had to stop showing off my genius to a friend.
England created a WT chat and I was very happy to see that as I did not want to initiate that chat because I spent '01 convincing Germany that England is his no1 enemy and vice versa.
Maybe I did too good of a job because those two had serious issues about demilitarizing the lowlands, but we made it work after I suggested the move-set for the entire year. However, both of them used the phrase 'don't stab me' a couple of times so my paranoia kicked in as they had a chance to end me rightly with EngChan, Picardy, Burgundy. I played as we agreed and was relieved to see both of them doing the same. WT does mean France must attack Italy, I don't like that but I went with it, and I had a couple of sleepless nights because they made progress while my borders were wide open for them. I like to think my diplomacy was my saving grace in this
Italy did not bounce Turkey out of East Med or Aegean, so he signed his own death warrant in my book, yes I moved towards him, but WestMed and Mao can quickly turn into Nao Mao, as long as Italy is capable of defending himself I would be willing to go back to my original strategy. He was a stern negotiator, but his moves were docile, allowing Turkey to develop is a blunder and I prefer to see Italian centers colored blue rather than yellow. I lost a tempo moving to Gascony instead of Mar, that was a trade off for my piece of mind, from Gascony I could defend one of Paris or Brest if I got turned over, which means one of my aggressors would get the short end of the stick and maybe some conflict would ensue. The northern German move-set was my pride, it was not easy for England to accept a fleet in Skaggerack but
it was the best tactical option and was agreed upon in the end. Russia was both complacent about England, and diplomatically inept regarding Germany, so the fall combination was easy, Germany got Sweden from Skaggerack, England secured St.Pet with an army, and Austria got Warsaw with German support, while I made my ultimate middle finger moves of Mao supports galicia to Warsaw and West Med supports Norway to St.Pet. Yes I lost tempo but I got satisfaction. With Italy I was still wheeling and dealing trying to portray myself as a blue helmet that comes in peace while I convoyed Spain to Piedmont and moved Gascony to Mar. The Piedmont move can still be justified with creative diplomacy so I was not worried about that. Russia did get into Budapest and Turkey secured Serbia, so Austria would surely be eliminated, but - not before Russia!
In the winter phase I suggested that England should waive a build because of his progress. What a donkey I was.. England reacted very aggressively but later accepted it, most likely after thinking about all the merits of having an ace in his sleeve. I just wanted to assert even more diplomatic control. Note to self - don't put your
fingers in every single honey jar you encounter.
Spring of '03 was tense, again I feared about Burgundy and Eng chann, but Germany was not an aggressive type, and England was not in a hurry, however he too was
seemingly worried so he played Nwg to Nao. Or he just wanted to see my reaction. Well I reacted like a drunk shizoid farmer from Alabama with a shotgun under his
pillow who just caught a hippy trying to camp in his backyard so I made sure England won't try anything like that for another couple of years.
Germany made his move towards the Balcans, England prepared a push into Moscow, Turkey surrounded Trieste and Russia occupied Ukraine and failed to enter Vienna.
Austria is in survival mode, so is Russia but he did not play well. Italy made all the wrong moves, that complements his defeatist attitude that started in '02.
I managed to get into Tyrrhenian with his blessing (do not allow anyone in Tyrrhenian ever if you have ambitions to get a result), North Africa, and Tuscany.
In the fall I went for Rome instead of Tunis, and acquired German support to Venice. Both moves succeded and I knew I will either win or choose a winner at this
point. England moved Nao to Clyde and got Moscow by force. Germany got into Galicia with Austrian help while Turkey got Trieste. Containing Turkey was now a priority
for me. He wanted to split Italy beforehand but then refused to support me into Tunis so I made a big deal out of it although thats perfectly reasonable given the
circumstances. More than once he either lied about small details or did not respond, which made no sense since his lies never influenced my game nor could I use my
knowledge about his move-set to harm him so I dismissed any potential to work with him later on.
Germany shared with me a couple of messages Russia sent him beforehand, those just proved Russia to be an obnoxious twat, sry, so demonizing him was easy and not
even necessary since he did all the work himself, and it was obvious in 02 that he will be the first to go. He also managed to lose Budapest and Rumania to Austria
and Turkey respectively.
In the winter phase England wanted me to waive my own build, but I laughed it off and asked him to cash in on his favor later.
This year was fun because of the Balcans, we supported Austria in trieste while Germany entered Budapest behind him, and in the fall I found a way to guarantee
Budapest remains German just by cutting all possible supports, and Austria failed to enter a right move to defend Trieste but we got lucky as Turkey did not play the
optimal moves. I took Tunis, and England managed to enter Sevastopol without support. Did Turkey allow him into Sev intentionally or not I don't know, but I certainly
started to watch them closely. Turkey got Naples.
England started to talk about sharing Germany, probably (confirmed in his aar) he had the same talks with Jerry.
This was a crucial year for our trio, subtly but meaningful. I took the final Italian center from Turkey but he has entered Adriatic and retreated his army into Appulia.
Germany went in for the kill on Austria but England did not cut Rumania which would break support of Turkish Serbia and at this point I considered England and Turkey
as allies. Especially because in the fall he went for Warsaw and allowed Turkey to grab Sevastopol. Serbia was gained but we could have crippled Turkey completely,
instead we gave him a lifeline, I knew he will come back to bite me in the ass, and that bodes well for England. At least it should but its important that I am
willing to do whatever it takes to secure alliances as will be proved later on..
The most important move was my entrance in Burgundy and Mao. England was told about it, and he did not want to see me in MaO, and told me he will counter with NaO,
but I managed to convince him that Mao is just a red herring and Burgundy is the move that counts, Mao is only a way to justify myself to Germany (I was afraid you'll
stab me so I defended from both of you, sry I could not take the pressure any more buhuhu). In reality, as England and Turkey were on the same page, the best way to
continue would be for Germany and me to play against Eng and Tur, and that would give me a clear victory as I assessed Germany to be a player who does not create plans, but enforces them diligently. His low awareness would enable me to jump on him for the solo push, but unfortunately it also meant that he was blind to what is coming in 1906.
In the fall Germany got two builds in Serbia and Trieste with my support, England got naught because of Warsaw/Seva trade, and I got one from Naples.
Turkey was severely weakened but its Turkey so as soon as we jump on each other he gets an easy ride back to power. Austria was still alive and kicking in Vienna.
In the winter of '05 England cashed in on his waived build by convincing Germany he should not build two but only one. And that one should be an army.
Well in retrospect, this is a moment in which I dropped the ball. First mistake I made was that I suggested to England in 04 that he should not ask me to defer a build,
instead he should ask Germany to waive his fleet build. Second, I saw them fighting over it in WT chat so I decided not to meddle for once and to see what Germany is made of. Terrible timing. I should have played on as I did up to this point, talking about every single detail with both of them. I though there was no way in hell
Germany would actually waive his build because that is suicide. As England you can do it, but as Germany...you are surrounded ffs, a second fleet placed in Baltic can
do nothing against England but can save Denmark/Sweden. He waived. Before the deadline I did get involved trying to put some sense into Germany and told him how we should consider England to be a Turkish friend and our enemy, but it was to late. Important to note, Germany seemed like he could spill the beans to England and I could not be completely open with tactical plans.
Oh, and one more thing made me very reserved. Those two were always online at the exact same time, I know because I don't sleep properly when I play diplomacy; at one point I got a message from Germany that could only be written by England, both because of timing and context. I was completely convinced I was getting set up,
thankfully my diplomacy with England was spot on, while Germany was so gullible it broke my heart when I saw he only built an army, as that meant I had to go with
England as an ally; England was a schemer like myself and he knew what he was doing, I had an upper hand but the existence of Turkey meant I can't hurt England
properly without a capable counterpart in Germany.
Instead of building a fleet in Brest, I built an army in Marseilles. The reason for that was the fact Germany had no intention of building a fleet because, and I quote,
'it would anger England', and because of that English message I got from Germany which made all my alarm bells go off.
England made Germany fear his anger, I respect that because I did the same when Eng moved to Nao, but one should fear well positioned units much more than some random dude raging online.
And here it comes, a move on Germany, I managed to convince England that he should give Belgium to me in order to create diplomatic chaos and to balance our gains.
He could prove himself to be prudent for allowing that, or a fool, depending on German reaction. I needed Germany to defend himself properly, if that happened I would
just stay put in Belgium and England would look foolish while I would be a hero that saved Germany from a deep puncturing stab, we could turn on England together and
I'd get the lion share of the spoils. But Germany was erratic and failed to defend, he even accused me of lying to him (I suggested he should bounce Eng in Skagerrack
and England moved to Swe instead of Ska..I should have suggested a bounce in Finland) even though I entered Belgium and North Sea in the spring.
So I said fuck this nonsense I'm taking what I can get, I took Holland and Belgium, entered Ruhr and Tyrolia, but I did make sure Germany gets Vienna so he still has
England was furious with me entering North Sea and taking both Belgium and Holland but I stood my ground, I'd rather lose on my own terms than give someone else the power to control my faith.
I built two armies to calm him down at least as Germany was convinced I'm the big bad wolf here and there was no cooperation to be had.
Turkey got Serbia back and in spring of 07 repositioned a bit and prepared to gain centers in the future.
Germany moved in a way which defends from myself and shows an intention to work with England. However England was, in my somewhat arrogant belief, fascinated a bit with my style of press and he wanted to see how our cooperation will pan out so he went with anti-German set of moves, but failed to enter a support to Denmark. He did manage to get into Berlin in the spring but his failed convoy meant he only got one build in the fall, as Germany was infuriated by his repeated stab and decided to defend Berlin and give every
center he had to me. I did not want that to happen...
Preferably, Germany would give me a center so I can build a fleet in Brest, but he would bounce me in Trieste and keep himself on the board. That way I'd had a buffer
in the Balcans and the east, and would give him a center back next year while I attack England. But Germany was adamant in his rage so I accepted his offer and took
Sometime around this period the quarantine in Croatia was stopped and we were allowed to travel freely again, so I decided I won't spend another 5 weeks or so
contemplating every possibility on the diplomacy board, instead I would go in the semi-wilderness where internet is a scarce resource and would sleep when I want to
sleep and get drunk without worrying about missing a deadline. So I decided to communicate that with England in hope that we won't get in a trench war.
Turkey got another center in Budapest, but he failed to play the right set of moves in the fall which would take Trieste off me. I took Vienna and Berlin.
I was on 16 centers with no clear way of getting 18, if the game was played as per usual tournament style with 1910/11 being the final year I could top the board just
by playing optimal moves and the finalist would be whoever it would be, but I had no chance of keeping my advantage until 1915, so I approached England.
I also played very well around Italy so Turkey could not make progress, although I think he had chances before if he convoyed to Appulia at an opportune moment.
In 09 I lost Trieste to Turkey, finally, but I was winning a battle against England who did not buy into my offer of getting him second place immediately.
I entered Nao and bounced him out of Prussia, slowing him down just enough to make him see that he won't be able to win the race against Turkey.
He did play suboptimal at this point, dithering a bit, not committing completely against either of me and Turkey. But I think he realized that and chose the right
option in 1910
I retreated from Nao but managed to explain to England why I wont leave English channel or give him any German centers for now.
Giving him a center in Germany was an option for 1914 if he and Turkey remained equal.
He positioned himself to take Sevastopol, and I moved into Galicia to cut support but Turkey prepared a defense so we had to think of something effective.
I saw the best move for Turkey, and found a counter, so I held Vienna and preserved status quo this year.
In the spring of 1911, England was anxious to get a center, understandably so, but there was no clear way for him to take something off Turkey, I found a tactic
which would put him in front, I was so happy with this one, Galicia bounced Turkey in Vienna (Turkey repeated optimal moves before so I was confident he will do it
again) and England forced me out of Galicia so we had Vienna surrounded in the fall after Galicia retreated to Bohemia. I was happy to support England in, and the outcome was 14/10/10 in my favor.
I'm impressed with Englands ability to put trust into me after the rollercoaster ride we had, and all the transgressions I made in our previous arrangements.
To be reasonable when you are angered is a rare quality, and Veritas has that, I'm sure many players would just go after me and Turkey would prevail in the end, Veritas ''swallowed shit'' as we say in Croatia, swallowed his pride and took the only realistic offer on the table instead of being vengeful.
I consider him to be a player who wants to control the board, like I do, and we had very tense moments and difficult discussions during the game, but he was able to
accept my position as the leader in the game and allowed me to dictate moves in the last couple of years trusting that I will do as I say, and it paid off. Sometimes I should
also accept that I can't get everything to go my way, and when that game comes again (probably the next one I play, such is life) I'll take a leaf out of his book.
Yes, he had a strong incentive, but hey, I did speak to Turkey as well and the result was not the same.
I positioned myself to get Ionian in the fall so Turkey would not be able to hold for much longer.
In the spring I forced myself into Ionian, and in the fall I managed to grab Trieste, Turkey could have defended with Trieste cut Vienna, Serbia supports Adriatic to
Trieste, but it wasn't to be, and the game was called a draw with me on 15, England on 10 and Turkey on 9.
I must note that I learned something new tactically here.
I'll give a specific example, some might know this concept, but others may not (like myself before this game).
If Turkey plays Trieste supports Adriatic to Venice, and France plays Tyrolia supports Venice to Trieste plus Piedmont Venice, France will enter Trieste and there will
be a bounce in Venice.
However, if Turkey adds Serbia or Bud support hold Trieste to the move-set, not only will Turkey keep Trieste (obvious), but there will be no bounce in Venice, instead
Turkey will get in. I was surprised to find that out in the sandbox, my friend finds it logical because of prioritization of orders, and it is I must agree.
So thats a side note that may sound daft and redundant, but I missed it so maybe someone else would to.
Anyway it was a fun game overall, the board looked neat and classical but the diplomacy was not neat at all. I'm disappointed that I could not solo from 16 centers,
the timing was not right and the remaining combination of forces is the worst, England and Turkey is a combo one does not want to see as France even if one is so close
to winning a game. Turkey was not pleased with me announcing that I won't participate in the finals, but he had that info as well as England, England used it, Turkey
glossed over it. Is it cynical to trade the finals for top board? Maybe. The real question is whether cynicism in diplomacy should be accepted or not. My opinion on
the matter is clear from my actions. I have no problems with players that get a red card in the 90th minute to stop the counter attack when their team is leading, a win is a win.
The game should be fun, and played for having fun, coincidentally winning is fun so there you have it.
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