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Diplomaticcorp Discussion Forum:  dc386

(Ambition and Empire)

Subject:< Current A&E Map & Rules 
Topic:< dc386 >
Category:< Active Games >
Posted:Nov 25, 2011 at 11:09 pm
Viewed:446 times

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I'm not sure where Dirk found the old A&E map that is shown on his game
announcement, but when I clicked on the "Ambition & Empire Info" link,
I went to a page that has the current map and rules.




In a message dated 11/25/2011 10:57:10 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
mike(at) writes:

huge discussion??? cliff notes version, did you need anything from
me?   If it???s just fixing the wiki writeup just send me the new

RP variant too if we need to update the files that are on




From: VonPowell(at)
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2011 2:27
To: Dirk Knemeyer; nick.s.powell(at)
arandia.t(at); sun.chung(at); wmysonski(at);
smileyrob68(at); alwayshunted(at); Raybrucea(at);
psychosis(at); aislattery(at); josiah.henderson(at);
aldous(at); jeffreykase(at); dipping_chris(at); dc386;
Michael Sims
Subject: Upcoming A&E




If Mike or someone else needs a copy of the current map to post to Dipwiki,
please let me know.




In a
message dated 11/24/2011 12:25:06 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
dirk(at) writes:

Nick is correct. I'm copying Mike Sims to see how this can be



from my iPhone

Nov 24, 2011, at 3:19 PM, Nick Powell <nick.s.powell(at)>

think it's simply that the map in the Dipwiki is out of


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM, <VonPowell(at)>



I'm looking forward to the upcoming contest.


question...  I notice the map associated with the link below is an
old version.  Is it possible to replace that map with the current map
(i.e., the same map you recently soloed on)?




a message dated 11/23/2011 10:32:49 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, dirk(at) writes:



appreciation of Baron's support of his variants, and fulfilling my
promise to Robert to GM an advanced variant for him, I have just posted
a new game of Ambition and Empire on DC that I shall be GM'ing. I hope
to see many of you there! Smile





Nov 24, 2011, at 12:24 AM, VonPowell(at)



very entertaining read.  


don't disagree at all that Denmark-Norway and Poland & Saxony
are challenging (to put it kindly) to play.  They are, indeed,
extremely challenging.  The key question is are they
viable.  By viable I mean that the a DN or PS player should
have a "reasonable expectation" of success if he or she plays
well.  I think this is the case.  The proof is that I've seen
both positions enjoy tremendous success.  Of course I've also seen
plenty of spectacular failure.  The true weakness in these
positions, in my opinion, is that they have virtually no margin for
error in the early going.  Most of the other nations have at
least some wiggle room to work with should they guess incorrectly or be
on the wrong side of a coalition.  This wiggle room might not be
enough to overcome a poor start and early elimination, but there is a
"chance" to recover.  DN and PS cannot really afford a misstep
until they have gained some traction.  They MUST start the game
with at least one and preferably more reliable allies so that they can
initially leave a flank unprotected while focusing their forces on the
first objective.  Good diplomacy should see DN and PS as
integral parts of coalitions that win the DP battle each turn and
isolate their enemies.  If DN and PS can avoid the early
elimination and gain a SC or two, then their prospects start to
look bright.


are correct.  Austria often gets to 8 SCs with little trouble at
all.  Getting to 15 SCs is another matter.  No power suffers
from ELS more than the Habsburg Empire.  Easy early growth
frequently turns into mid-game stagnation.  Decline and elimination
often follow.  I'm not convinced that trying to avoid looking big
is the answer to the Austrian conundrum.  Instead, I think the key
for Austrian success is to be a member in good standing
of a successful coalition.  This can be achieved through active
diplomacy (no surprise there), largesse with DPs, open military
support to a partner fighting a common or potential enemy, and
judicious sharing of the spoils of victory.  Growth within the
coalition does not necessarily need to be equal,
however.  Austria has no interest in creating a powerful
rival.  Instead, growth simply needs to be "fair enough" that
partners believe they benefit from being Austria's
friend.  Austrian math should go as follows: one for ally A
and one for ally B and two for me.  Austria can probably keep
its allies happy in this manner without too much difficulty until it
reaches 11 or 12 SCs.   At that point, the dynamics get
trickier.  Unless Austria wishes to hold hands with its partners
all the way to a draw, it will need to be ruthless to get those last few
SCs.  Setting up and timing the rush to victory is a challenge, but
that is what makes the game interesting.


do believe a correction is in order...  I think the article
about A&E's Austria that mentions the Sultan Slayer was written
by our friend Nick Higgens rather than Chris.  If I'm mistaken
Chris, please correct me.


looking forward to the next A&E game.  Until






a message dated 11/21/2011 11:00:44 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, arandia.t(at)

post-game - Adriaan (1763-1766):

has been many turns since I passed control of the Hapsburg Empire to
the capable hands of Sun Chung. Since inheriting control, he has
brought Austria to new heights of glory and accomplished many great
things. But as I sit here writing my memoirs, I hope you can spare a
thought for Austria before she was great. Indeed, there was a
time when there were ten kingdoms seeking to dominate Europe, and
Austria was but one of them...

so to cut the crap - well, it appears that I am totally incapable of
completing anything if I don't have a looming deadline to pressure me.
Believe it or not, I actually started writing this EOG before the game
even finished! Well, look where I ended up with that... better late
than never?

off - Robert. A great deal of thanks to you for running such an
organized and professional game. I have previously played a few games
with lackluster GMs, and it makes a huge difference - it is a lot of
work for modest reward, and I hope I can someday repay the

congratulations to Dirk, on a well-deserved victory. It is a sign of a
game well-played that even in the last few years, as you approached
that magic number, your allies still saw it as in their interest to
work with you rather than against you. This is no easy feat against
what is clearly a strong table!

Well, we may as well begin at the beginning: power selections. As
Robert mentioned in that initial email, the two counties to receive
the highest bids (by a large margin!) were Turkey and Spain. I must
own up to contributing my fair share to those two averages, as I only
saved a measly '2' for Austria. I suppose that, all things considered,
there are worse countries to start with than Austria - I consider it
good fortune that I didn't end up with Saxony or Norway. That is, of
course, not to say that there is anything wrong with either of
those countries (Baron), merely that they force a play style that I
don't personally enjoy.

had done a little reading on A&E prior to this game, and from what
I could tell, Austria tends to suffer from the curse of being the
early leader. Not only does she start with four units, but she is
square in the middle of the most SC-rich part of the board. Austria
expands almost involuntarily, at least at first. Of course, the
trade-off for this early success seems to be middle-game stagnation.
Perhaps Baron could shed some light/numbers on this, but I hoped to
try and take a different course in this game. My initial expansion in
Italy was deliberately slower than it could have been (at times
requiring great amounts of willpower), in an attempt to follow this
path. However, beyond this rough outline, I had relatively little in
the way of a long-term plan - too much depends, of course, on the
other players involved.

Dziedzic, in his article on A&E in Diplomacy World, suggests that
Austria's relationship with Turkey is her defining feature; that the
Archduke must play either the Sultan-slayer or the Sultan's best
friend. I'm not convinced that those are the only two options
available, but it seemed like as decent a place as any to start. My
initial negotiations with Aidan had been mostly positive, and I
certainly didn't want to commit to an early and potentially costly war
that could limit my other choices. Thus I figured I would try to work
with him, and see if he wouldn't be more interested sailing ships to
Spain than marching armies to Vienna. Over the course of the four
years in which I played, Aidan and I managed to develop a very good
rapport. He struck me as being a very capable and resourceful
diplomat, and he was one of the players I had on my personal
short-list if and when it came down to figuring out who to include in
a draw. Perhaps we'll never know just how successful I was in
this (unless Aidan cares to share in *his* EOG), but at least I
think that I left the game with an ally to the south. I only
hope that I wasn't merely playing the sucker who escaped a stabbing,
through an abdication in the nick of time...

of Nick: early-game Germany. In my initial view, the only real
short-term threat to Austria in the opening year comes from an allied
Prussia and Poland/Saxony. I therefore did what I could to create
tensions between them, with the view to also picking up a few extra
cities beyond Austria's traditional 8-centre Alpine plateau. As it
happened, tensions weren't too hard to achieve - both Nick and Ray
seemed to distrust each other from the start. Overtly I sided with
Nick, but as things got more complicated in Germany I'll admit to
ending up with a few mixed motives of my own. While I never directly
attacked Nick, I will admit to not being the best possible ally,
either. For instance, those "crossed wires" in 1764 that resulted in
the western Saxon army surviving a four-unit attack were
completely accidental, and the fact that the surviving Saxon
army proceeded to stymie French growth in the Alps was most
unfortunate, and totally coincidental. Nick, given how fluid things
were at the beginning of the game, I only hope that you can forgive
these trespasses.

is obviously a very good player, because he managed to scare everyone
else into a stampede into Germany in short order; that's the most
logical conclusion I can come to. What began as a Prussian-Russian war
to the east took on more ominous tones for Nick once Dirk leveraged
Ray to gain the upper hand. And, of course, nothing brings further
attacks like a perceived weakness. Soon France and Britain were
snapping at the Kaiser's heels. Nick and I had always gotten along
very well, but when push came to shove I realized that I couldn't keep
him afloat by myself - I had little choice but to try and find other
players to work with.

relationship with Dirk is perhaps proof of the old Diplomacy maxim
that if you talk enough, it almost doesn't matter what you're saying.
After an initial slow start, my alliance with Dirk developed into what
as probably my closest in the game. Of course, this belies the fact
that our first diplomatic conversation of much substance was a
*colossal* disagreement (something on the subject of Germany, it went
on for pages and caused a few headaches for him too, I'm sure)! He has
since sung me some very high praises in his EOG, so I imagine that
that has been forgiven and forgotten. I'm very glad that I was able to
convince Dirk to not push through central Europe; even if this was
rather self-serving at first, it clearly worked to Dirk's interest as
well. Overall, I found Dirk to be a very reasonable and very canny
player, with whom it was a pleasure to work, and who played the board
very well. At one point, I think he was juggling two, maybe even three
vassals - not an easy feat. Congratulations again, Dirk, on a game

in between Nick, Dirk and myself, there was Ray. Now I know there may
be a numerical argument somewhere saying that Poland and Saxony isn't
really all that bad, but I think that it has to be, at the very least,
the most precarious position on the board (whether or not it
does decently in the long run). I found my interactions with Ray to be
a little clipped, but all the same constructive and not unreasonable.
Perhaps the brevity can be excused by the game of 1900 he was also
involved in. In a critique of his play style, I really can't say too
much; I initially chose to work with Nick against Ray mostly on the
basis of starting position and rumour (cheering for the same team as
Nick in the Stanly Cup finals probably influenced my position more
than I'd care to admit). Ray, let me assure you - I never intended to
execute the stab that befell you.

always felt that Diplomacy is best played when the map does not force
the players into any particular course of action. Thus, I prefer 1900
over Standard partly because in 1900, Turkey need not fight Austria.
In A&E, I think that the relationship between Austria and France
may not approach the same level of predestination, but it is
definitely not a stress-free border. That is not to say, of course,
that France and Austria *need* to fight; merely that it is easy. I
tried to structure my relationship with Warren on the basis that most
of the other players would expect some hostility between the two of
us, and that we could therefore both have an advantage if our borders
stayed unexpectedly calm. Of course, aiding this was the fact that
Warren was a good player and a reasonable person, with whom I saw a
fair bit of common interest (is it ever possible to have a good player
that is not reasonable?). I found our relationship to be
cordial, if perhaps a little wary - though perhaps wariness was
warranted, given what happened during my last move. Rest assured,
Warren, I never intended on continuing my cooperation with Ray beyond
that one turn that saw the Saxons march to

Josiah, Richard, and Wladimir - it was good to meet you all. Some time
I hope to meet you in another game, where we might be located somewhat
closer together, and have somewhat greater interactions. As it was, I
hope that you all got as much enjoyment out of this game as I

the highly-appreciated replacement, Sun Chung. Many thanks, of course,
for taking over my position on such short notice; real life can be
such a pesky thing to have to deal with. The rest of you probably know
him better than I do, as we only had a few short emails between us at
the tail end of my tenure. Nevertheless, as he mentions we did have a
few discussions of some weight - in particular one concerning whether
Austria should make a break for a solo, or risk enmeshed borders with
Saxony. Sun has said that I provided him with council on this; I will
admit to sending him a detailed multi-page discussion and risk
assessment outlining how an Archduke might strike for a solo
from eight centres few suggestions, but in my
I also made it clear that I had made no decision whether
or not I would actually go about implementing this plan. All said, I
was actually rather glad when Sun agreed to be my replacement, as he
signed on just in time to save me from having to make this very
hard choice. From an outside perspective, I think that there was
likely very little that Sun could have done differently to convert his
inherited position into a solo - changing players is always going to
make your neighbours rather wary. I think he handled the chaos
following his run admirably, and he certainly kept Austria abreast the
future of Europe. Well-played Sun, and thanks

closing, I have to thank you all for what was a tremendously fun game.
I hope to get an opportunity to play with you all again sometime; it
is always a pleasure to find a group of players who are not only
committed to playing Diplomacy, but who play it well. I hope to see
you all in future games.





I've uploaded photos of a few of my reasons for abdication, for your


7 October 2011 15:21, Sun Chung <sun.chung(at)> wrote:

Robert for GMing ??? it???s a pleasure playing in a game that you run.

Also, thanks to everyone on the board for a good game.
 And for Adriaan for his thoughts/guidance/recommendations early
on in the game.  Kudos to him for getting Austria to a great
stage in the game.  My big regret is that I was unable to fulfill
Austria???s opportunity that Adriaan set up.

For me, the mark of
a good game is when the players are committed and are willing to
accept the game for what it is ??? a shifting swirl of deals, broken
deals, and new deals being created.  It was interesting to see
how the dynamics of the game were able to shift, although I probably
contributed to less of that towards the end of the game.  I
appreciated that most on the board were open to thinking about
shifting their alliance and at least listened to new deals.

missed the early stages of the game, so I can???t really comment much on
how the armed neutrals dynamic shaped the early portion of the game.
 When Robert asked me to replace Adriaan, I came into the game
thinking 1) what a great opportunity ??? this power is strong and has a
good lead but 2) Austria???s completely surrounded I don't have enough
armies to plug in all the gaps - the lead can fall really

My first focus on the game was the complex
relationship Austria had with Saxony.  There wasn???t a good
defensive line set up, and our armies were all intermixed
together.  Not a situation I liked.  Elsewhere on the map,
it didn???t seem like there was strong cooperation between
France/Britain/Spain.  Russia was friendly and was trying to
build upon the work that Adriaan had done.  Unfortunately for me,
I didn???t have much contact with Turkey at the start.

The first
order of business was how to get involved in the game and unwind the
tie-up of Austria and Saxony.  I did not feel comfortable with
the situation (esp since it wasn???t of my doing!).  As Dirk
mentioned in his EOG statement, I typically like strong stable
borders.  It really bothered me that I couldn???t count on a stable
front in any direction.  Plus, Saxony was looking to regain his
strength and was pushing to recover some of his home centers. 
Adriaan and I agreed that a re-emergence of Saxony would be a threat
to Austria.  So my first major decision was that I would not
support Saxony and stab him.  That would prevent a rebirth of
Saxony and give me a stable front to work from.

But this
created another problem.  It would undoubtedly raise solo alarm
bells across the board.  And mark a significant shift in the
Austrian??? strategy at this point.  Now, my natural desire was to
start out slowly, play defensively, and get my feet wet in the game.
 I didn???t want to be viewed as a loose cannon coming in brand
new.  However, being able to discuss strategy and tactics with
Adriaan eased the transition quite a bit.  I know that Ray
probably views my stab as a direct consequence of a new replacement
player dropping old agreements, but I was able to get Adriaan???s consul
on my first initial moves.

From there, once I determined that
Saxony would be stabbed, and I knew that it would cause alarms on the
board, I pushed full ahead on going for the solo.  I probably
shouldn???t speak for Adriaan as this is my EOG statement, and not his,
but the push for an early Austrian solo was not created in a vacuum.

My first mistake in the game was not securing my
relationship with Turkey.  I think had I been able to pickup four
builds in the first season (that I played) I may have been able to get
enough push to really threaten for a solo.  But for either
nervousness with a new player, or I rubbed him the wrong way,
something lead to Turkey taking a center from me, and I only got 3
plus centers in the first turn.

I didn???t think it was the end
of the game, and in some ways, I liked this position much better.
 I was able to get a nice stable line against France, I thought I
could secure a line against Turkey and was hoping that Russia wouldn???t
view me as a long term threat.  But my dreams of an Austria solo
were crushed.  I tried my best to say that my push was really
only to secure myself against Saxony and not reach for a solo.
 It probably fell on deaf ears, but I thought I would have a
chance since it was at least partially true.

From there, the
game switched to survival.  I thought I built an okay line of
communication with France (I told him I had to take Savoy since it was
there for the taking in the first year, but I didn???t want it to set in
stone the Austrian/French relationship), thought that I could get
Turkey to lay off by letting him keep what he took (Turkey had a good
relationship with the prior Austria), and I thought I could convince
Russia that my swing for a solo was a one and done deal and that I
could be a reasonable partner.  All three powers attacked

Once Turkey got into the Adriatic Sea, I was at his mercy.
 Side note observation - this map creates a lot of defensive
issues for Austria, in particular the way I was set up when I entered
the game.  Austria is a land power, but with a home center in
Milan and the host of supply centers in Italy, Austria???s sphere of
influence gravitates around the Adriatic.  With the Turkish fleet
there, I was forced to keep units bottled up on my southern front.
 That one fleet tied up a huge number of my armies.  This
drove me crazy.
My next course of action was to work on France
and/or Russia into attack Turkey.  While trying to cut a deal
with Aiden in any fashion as long as he left ADR.  Deals with
Turkey fell apart multiple times, but I fared better on the diplomatic
front.  Getting Russia to favor me, while getting France to
cooperate for awhile and attack Turkey.

The end game stage
really boiled down to trying to figure out a way to end the game
without it being a DIAS.  I tried really hard to make it a France
??? Austria ??? Russia triple, but neither France nor Russia seemed to
trust the other.  What may have worked against me was that I also
played up the potential solo threat that they both presented.
 Russia could (and did) have the numbers to sweep across northern
Germany and get a solo.  France for a while was a couple of
centers lower, but if Turkey got crippled (and I had a bear of a time
trying to get a deal done where we trusted each other), and Britain
got stabbed by France, then no one could really threaten the French
navy.  I felt that Austria was the only credible counter to
either solo threats.

For awhile, it worked.  France agreed
to not aid Turkey any more, and Russia allowed me to rush my armies to
the west and defend against France???s superior land position over me.
 Eventually it boiled down to keeping what I had, while trying
diplomatically getting into the three way draw.

At one point,
Russia had the necessary centers at his reach where he could easily
have gone for the solo.  I panicked and hedged myself and move
some units, but not all, to cover the open centers.  Dirk was
surprised but took it rather well that I tactically split myself.
 Since he didn???t stab me nor went for a solo directly, I was
lulled into thinking that maybe Russia wasn???t in it for a solo at this
stage.  I had even asked Sweden (given how close Wladimir was
coordinating with Dirk for the bulk of the game) for advice to get his
read on Russia???s plans.  Whether Wladimir was equally convinced
of Dirk not attempting a solo or was part of the Russian PR campaign I
don???t know.  

From a tactical stand point, I was then
doomed.  I didn???t have enough armies to cover all of my holes, I
was at the mercy of Russia not pushing for a solo.  And I felt
that I couldn???t react too strong or else I would push Russia into
thinking I was an untrustworthy ally and by my preventative action,
get Dirk to order to secure a solo.

In hind-sight, I should???ve
committed one way or the other.  I felt that I was constantly
moving my armies east and then west.  I could never build a
fleet, which crippled me against Turkey.  And at some point, I
should???ve made a more tactical retreat to shore up my defensive line
against Turkey/France/or Russia.

This has been a long winded
rambling, so apologies for that.  And apologies for any typos in
this - trying to do this quickly, across small breaks during my work

Thoughts on the players:

Russia:  Good
job.  Played skillfully, and got me suckered into thinking you'd
be committed to the draw.  Not much I could've done about it even
if I knew about your intentions though.  Always enjoyed our
conversations and your willingness to work out deals. Your solo was
well deserved.

France:  Enjoyed our conversations,
and the fact that we were able to keep up a dialogue even with
disagreements.  I wonder if we could've set up a different
outcome had we had a chance to work together from the beginning. 
Your warning bells should've been heeded more in Vienna.  I blame
the Turks for drowning out your message!

We got off on the wrong foot and then continued to
break our agreements.  I wish we could've some out untangled the
complex tactical mess we were in, but alas, I think our in-fighting
created the biggest opportunity for Russia to solo.  You had me
in a difficult spot the entire game, and I don't really blame you for
keeping that dang fleet parked in the Adriatic.  Makes sense, but
created all sorts of issues for me.  If we cross paths again, I
promise to try harder to get diplomacy working between

Poland Saxony:  I do apologize for starting out
the game with a stab.  I really felt uncomfortable with the way
our units/centers were intertwined.  This is one of those, it's
all business, message.  I appreciate your attempts to get back
into the game and your willingness to stick with the game and not drop

Britain:  We didn't have a lot of interaction
- another hindsight thing where I should've tried harder. 
Perhaps the make up of the game would've been

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of comments.  I came in at
a time where I think your fates may have already been

All in all, thank you for giving me this
opportunity to play Ambition and Empire.  I???ve been interested in
playing this variant for awhile and would love another opportunity to
play (esp from the beginning).  It's been a pleasure playing with
you all.







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Current A&E Map & Rules (vonpowell) Nov 25, 11:09 pm

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