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(World Turned Upside Down - Well Left Anyways GM - Packrat)

Subject:< DC 218 SL - German EOG 
Topic:< dc218 >
Category:< Closed Games 
Posted:Sep 14, 2009 at 12:57 am
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Dec 31, 1969Unknown

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Hi Gents,

Thanks for the nice words of congratulation. It was a fun game, a challenging game, and given the level of competition I can't help feeling some pride of accomplishment. It has been a verrrrry long time since I took a solo in a non-gunboat game. Funny thing is, that other time was also a case where I was an early substitute, so you could say I'm still something of a virgin in that regard since I've managed the feat in a full game.

I joined this game in Summer 1904. Germany had 7 SC but it wasn't clear how or if I was going to get any of my units home. There was a big logjam in Austria, with four countries (A, E, G, R) all trying to push through the region. France was already home and Turkey had two units on his own doorstep. What's more, France had two of my German home SC, and England was about to be eliminated. So I guess without realizing it, I took up right where the previous Germans had left off and started telling all the other players that we had to stop screwing around RIGHT NOW or France was going to run away with the game.

First order of business was to figure out a way to get Austria, England, Russia and I untangled and into our respective home centers. Graham (Austria), Steve C (England) and Matt (Russia) all expressed cautious support for mutual cooperation in the center of the board, but it still required a great deal of convincing and cajoling to forge an agreement. I also invested effort in building a good relationship with Andy (Italy) because in the absence of England he was the only other one who could help directly against France.

I think in the end it wasn't my charm or cleverness that won out, but rather plain old doggedness. From what I was hearing there wasn't much writing going on up to that point. Really? I can remedy that! I talked a lot. To everybody. I just checked my email folder for this game, and in the first 3 seasons (F04, W04, S04) I wrote 51 different messages! Almost all of those were working with A, I and R, trying to set up a grand alliance where G and I would fight France and R and T would fight Turkey.

Of course, none of this would keep from talking to Turkey and France, too. Jack (Turkey) wasn't very interested, though, and since we had nothing to coordinate, it was no big deal to me. The conversation with Stephen Worthy (France), on the other hand, was both productive and fun. I knew Stephen from a few years back when he GM'd a gunboat variant called Stab! which I loved (and won). I knew that if I were in his shoes, I'd be trying to eliminate Germany. England was clearly no threat, so if Germany could be neutralized, the whole West would be a French playground. The first very key "win" for me was convincing Austria to support me into Munich against the French attempt to bounce me there in Spring '05. Without that support, I never would have gotten that first army home and the whole game would have been different. Actually, it is fortunate for everyone that France did not take Munich in Fall '04. He could have had it unopposed, but I suspect he didn't because he didn't want to knock Austria down to 1 SC which would have been the result. Or maybe he thought Austria would bounce him? I don't know, but I'm thinking it must be a big "What if?" in Stephen's mind.

The central madness did untangle pretty quickly, even though we suffered a bit of a glitch in the first season when Russia didn't quite trust us. That cost England his last dot, which was probably a blessing in disguise. He really wasn't going anywhere. The next critical bit was convincing Italy to stab France by taking Brest. This was SUCH an important move. France was the only country able to build at this point, had the English Isles sitting there completely unprotected, and was thinking he had two units ready to take Munich and block Germany from getting home.

Once Italy took Brest, it was easy for me to arrange "peace" with France. I didn't need to fight him. All I needed to do was claim my homeland. We arranged spheres of influence that gave me Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia (assuming I could get there before Russia). The next couple of years saw me growing at home and staying friendly with both Italy and France as they fought each other. My fleet that started in Smyrna passed through the Med, claimed Spain with the blessing of both F and I, and then moved out to MAO.

Then came the moment of truth. It wasn't an easy decision, at all, since I was getting along great with both guys. After waffling a bit, I chose Italy as the ally who was most likely to be of benefit to Germany long-term.

Although I was working closely with Italy, I really saw Austria as my main long-term ally. He was growing quickly, too, taking his own SC and most of the Balkans. He and Russia were nominally working together, though it seemed to me that when he took Rumania from Russia instead of Bulgaria, he was pushing Russia's buttons a little bit. I should note that in 1905 Steve Lytton took over for Graham. This was a shock for me, since Graham had given no hints that he was leaving and seemed to have become very involved in the game. I was very pleased, of course, when Steve said he would be following Graham's instructions to work with Germany. Nevertheless, I was clear that Steve was more, um, forceful? Aggressive? We got along fine, though it should be noted we never actually worked together beyond my supporting his army in Sevastopol for a few turns late in the game.

Russia and I were sort-of allies. We talked about his teaming with Austria against Turkey, and the two of us keeping an eye on Austria to make sure he didn't grow too quickly. But Matt didn't talk very much, and after a couple instances of sitting on my messages and not answering until AFTER the results were posted, I grew wary. It became clear eventually that he thought Scandinavia belonged to Russia. When he bypassed a build in Sevastopol to build a fleet in St. Pete, I knew we were destined to fight sooner rather than later.

France was putting up a good fight, but I figured that Italy and I had him licked. I'd just built 3 new units. Austria had some spare units, too, so I talked to him about taking on Russia. He hedged, but I figured if I made the first move he'd join in, so I backed my fleet off France and threw a 5 units at Scandinavia and Warsaw. Unfortunately, two things happened to spoil my timing. One, France chose that moment to push back, and two, Austria stabbed Italy. This meant no more Italian pressure on France, so no way I could both attack Russia and keep France out of London.

Time to reevaluate and renegotiate. I ceded London and Liverpool to France, and loaned him an army so he could take Marseilles back from Italy. I concentrated on Russia, forcing my way into Sweden in '08, then in '09 I took Warsaw (with Austria's help) and made a lucky guess that delivered St. Pete. Russia was essentially finished at this point, although it would be a couple of years before I could finally spare the units to eliminate that last pesky fleet in Norway.

It was at this point that I started actively thinking about the possibility of a solo. As I mentioned, it has been a long time between solos for me. I felt a bit of an obligation to my partner Austria, and I had been dutifully voting for the AG draw, but at some point I decided the "right" thing to do was to go for the win. I figured Austria would have if he had the chance. A couple of seasons earlier I had thought Austria had a good chance to solo, himself, but Italy managed to fall back remarkably quickly and put up a heck of defense. Because of that, Stephen could never free up the one more fleet he needed to break Turkey. He was pretty much stalemated. I counted dots and realized that I didn't need any more dots in the east. If I could solo without stabbing my ally, I thought that was something my conscience could live with.

All I had to do was break France. I think I surprised myself and the other players at how quickly that happened. My strength advantage made an eventual victory likely, but I was expecting it was one of those things where I'd have to probe and probe until I finally got lucky and Stephen guessed wrong. Instead, I was fortunate early and managed to slip an army into Gascony. From that point, I knew I had it.

Diplomatically, I was really expecting a "Stop Germany" movement to develop sooner. The late push forward into Galicia/Bohemia/Ukraine was never actually a stab for dots at all. I was a preemptive defensive move against such a movement, just in case. As it turned out, it was a good strategic move, as it incited Austria to move his army out of Piedmont and thus leave Marseilles undefended in the last season, giving me my 18th dot a year earlier than expected. If that hadn't happened, I probably would have played it safer and convoyed the army over from Wales in order to take Brest and Paris.

Many thanks to all players. I really, really enjoyed the game, and I say that not just because I won. Some individualize comments:

Stephen (France) - It is a measure of my very high esteem for you and your abilities that I always considered you the biggest threat. The fact that I knew your gunboat resume was so impressive was one of the biggest reasons why I knew I had to get everyone talking again. In a quiet world, Stephen is the king. Sorry for times when it was necessary for me to lie to you, and thanks for your implied forgiveness in your closing remarks.

Andy (Italy) - Great fun to play in a game with you after having enjoyed having you as a GM. I thought we worked really well together and I feel we have complementary styles and attitudes towards the game. It would have been interesting to see how the game would have played out if Austria hadn't stabbed you when he did. If he and I had finished off Russia while you and I finished France, it might have settled into a nice three-way. Or, just maybe, you and I would have tackled Austria together. Could have been interesting.

Stephen (Austria) - Enjoyed meeting you, or meeting you again, perhaps? I don't remember the game, but you were already in my address book. Could have been another game where one of us was a replacement. Anyway, your reputation also precedes you. Great to have you on my side, but I was always a bit nervous about it, I admit. You were clearly watching me closely, concerned that I might get overambitious. Ironically, I think it was that attitude in part that helped me decide to make the solo attempt. I understand why you didn't tell me about the stab on Italy, but it would have been interesting if you had tried to convince me to go along with it instead of surprising me and thus not being there at first when I needed you in Russia. It made me a little more independent from that point on. Very interested to hear your thoughts on the game. Did you feel hamstrung by Graham's initial instructions to work with me? Was that all that kept me from feeling the knife in my back? And what about that comment that I had "established a pattern?" That one puzzled me.

Matt (Russia) - I never really thought you were that involved with the game. You worked with us for a while but didn't show much enthusiasm for our grand alliance. For me, when forced to choose, it was much easier to stay with the guys who wrote me often and responded promptly. That wasn't you in this game. Maybe next time?

Jack (Turkey) - You pretty much said it all in your EOG, which was that you didn't say much of anything in the game. That would have bothered me if I'd needed to make plans with you, but as it was, you did your "job" as a thorn in the Russian and Austrian sides without requiring any maintenance from Germany.

Finally, to Scott, The Packrat, our illustrious GM. I very much enjoyed interacting with you from a safe vantagepoint. You did a great job managing the game, from my POV. You cracked the whip when it needed cracking, which I appreciate. You were quick with the results and to answer any questions, which is very important to me because it seems I'm always pestering my GM's about something. Thanks very much and I shall certainly seek out your games in the future. I might even play with you again. The scars are mostly healed from the last time, I think. :-/


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DC 218 SL - German EOG (camorse22) Sep 14, 12:57 am

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