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Post 13 Jul 2015, 12:10 pm

Sorry, this took a little longer than I originally planned.

I asked Tom to give me a small power, something like Cuba. I didn't really want to put a ton of time into the game, especially since it was going to run through the spring and I knew I was going to be quite busy in March and June. So he gives me Kenya, which is certainly a challenge. One that I looked forward too, though, since my longstanding theory is that it is the player, not the power, which will dictate how the game evolves.

I did not like the look of the board. At all. In the immediate term, I've got Rob in Zambia, Ling in China, Dario in USA and Russ in France. Trevor is always a solid ally, so that was actually a nice thing to see but that was about it. In the medium term, I'm looking at Randy in Sri Lanka and Fred in Turkey, while the ever-unpredictable Dag is in South Africa. I can certainly think of a few board setups that are a little easier than this!

I latched on to Trevor almost immediately, he is a loyal guy and that is 100% necessary in NWO. I am fairly sure I was the one who proposed the Kenya-Congo-Zambia alliance with Rob, although I might be corrected by one of those two guys. Anyway, we put together the core alliance that wasn't broken for the rest of the game.

I used the boogeyman of a possible China-France allliance to almost force a larger African alliance. It was actually kind of easy, the CF alliance from last game took over Africa. There was absolutely no credibility to my claim - that CF success was primarily due to new and uncoordinated players in Africa. That wasn't going to happen this time. Nonetheless, I was able to leave enough shadows in the backs of the minds of the Africans that we initially discussed a grander African alliance. We had a few bites from players in Egypt, Mali and Nigeria. Ultimately, though, it was going to be Ken-Con-Zam to the end.

The worst part about all of this was that China and France were actually being cooperative in their own, sometimes warped, ways. I did sense that Russ wanted peace, except he had this odd fascination with never attacking China. Similarly, Ling wanted peace, but he never wanted France to disappear. I actually did believe they were legitimately looking for peaceful arrangements except neither of them seemed to figure it out: if my core alliance is to my south/west, and they are asking for peace in the north/east, where am I supposed to grow into? It became a longstanding sticking point between Ling and I. Either he was being intentionally obtuse about the whole thing, or he actually thought I would just sit there and twiddle my thumbs all game. I knew my "advance at all costs" tricks wouldn't work against the veteran players in my region, but I certainly was not going to just sit there!

Scrolling back to the spring 2011, Ling and I agreed to split up Juba and Ethiopia. I may have helped to encourage Egypt to taking Khartoum in the fall :angel:. Egypt came up with the idea but I wouldn't have any problem with China not building an extra unit in Africa.

At this point, China was on the back foot and I was actually seriously contemplating getting the big powers out of Africa altogether. I know Ling has a long memory but 8 years is a very long time for him to remember force a revenge on me. It wasn't a relevant factor though, since both Ling and Russ continued to try and make every effort to appease me.

2013 was the turning point for the African alliance. We still had 'friends' around the continent but, most importantly, we finished vacating the centre of the continent of units. Zambia coordinated the final stab on South Africa to sweep him out of the region, while Trevor and I successfully re-arranged some of our SCs to put as many units on our front line as possible. You know an alliance is succeeding when you can trade SCs.

2013 was also the year I didn't grow, which sucked. The timing just wasn't right to attack either China or France, so I was left trying to scrape out a survival in East Africa. I tried everything diplomatically to force something but sure enough, Ling was prepping for a stab on India, so he wasn't giving anything away.

This ended up being indicative of a larger-scale problem with Ling. Maybe he didn't need to tell me in particular about this stab, but he never told me what he was thinking or planning. Most of his moves caught me completely off-guard. It was sometime around 2013 or so that I offered him to join up with the Africans. He would have a solid group of E power friends, a group who was already looking like it was going to be a force in the southern hemisphere, let alone our continent. Ling always placated me, evaded any of my questions, moved in provocative ways which he later justified because I wasn't specific enough in my emails to him, etc. In other words, he was a terrible ally, if you could even call him that. Heck, I think at one point, he specifically said "we are not allies", so that kind of made my future decisions easier. The only trouble was, it's not like I could just eliminate him. Instead, I had to continue to work with/against him as best i could, under the table of course. So I spent many, many hours trying to keep him in line, never looking at Africa as a target, and learning as much as I could from his non-statements. I retroactively labelled this plan Operation Kenya Feel the Love Tonight. I'm sure Ling felt my love, all game long.

Back to the board. In 2014, Ling told me it was ok to take Somalia from France. It wasn't. It almost made me laugh, although primarily due to sheer frustration. I just figured I'll continue on my path and continue to blame Ling. It was pretty easy, I think he was frustrating other people too. Also in 2014, I inherited Saudi Arabia as my little vassal buddy. Alex had been kicked out of the Middle East and "saved" by France. I just didn't sense that France knew what the value of a little vassal could be. I immediately jumped on the opportunity and offered Saudi Arabia one of my SCs for survival. Alex is very eager to play the game and he was happy to do it.

Here was my new problem: what next? I had multiple options. I could head north into northern Africa, or the Middle East. Maybe head east into Pakistan/India, or directly east towards Sri Lanka and Indonesia. I discussed many possible plans with many people and I wouldn't be surprised if Ling was turning around and telling people exactly the parts I didn't want them to hear. Actually, to be clear, I know he did that, with Sri Lanka in particular. Anyway, at this point, I was still trying to be flexible to grow into a region that wouldn't cause too many headaches for my neighbours.

I picked India/Pakistan as the target and worked my way into the Arabian. India was on the downturn and Pakistan didn't really have any friends. That, and it would be pretty fun to be Kenya in Uzbekistan. I slipped up and didn't support my unit on the first convoy, although I still had zero belief that Randy would ever actively support India against me. Ah well.

At this point, Egypt is finally gone and the Africans are pushing outwards from central Africa. Trevor and I are threatening the northern coastline and Rob is already working on South America. I was rebuffed in Pakistan but still had a solid naval presence there. The work from this point forward is making sure Africa stays outside of the radar of as many people as possible and, critically, to keep growing towards votes.

The EOG shifts away from tactics and more towards the votes now. We had a rough estimation of needing around 20 votes amongst the three of us to be successful in coalitions. If we wanted a 3x African victory, we'd need 25 (at least). The other challenge was to make sure we only alienate those we didn't need votes from. Some players, like Turkey, were in possession of our votes and automatically became a target. Others, like Sri Lanka, were dependent on how the game developed.

The wheels did start to get bogged down in the mud and I didn't have anywhere to go again. But the stars aligned and Germany/Turkey chose this season to stab Italy, followed quickly by China wanting to stab Sri Lanka. It was like the skies cleared up for the Africans. The North Americans jumped on the opportunity to go into Europe and we also worked with them to take out Australia, one of China's last allies. Rob took this opportunity to inherit Sri Lanka as a vassal of his own. I was a little annoyed at this, since I needed votes of my own to make myself a contender. I know Rob likely had good intentions, and possibly some selfish ones too, but it wasn't a boon to our alliance - except for Brunei. Single votes do matter in this game, and since i couldn't capture Brunei, I agreed to let Randy live.

From 2018 onwards, it was just a question of which direction to attack first. After a LONG debate, we went after Turkey first. Then we hit China.

At some point around 2017, Rob and I were discussing voting alliances and Zac came up. I was hesitant to work with Zac this game. He is an intensely loyal player when you don't pose a threat, and he commands that loyalty from his allies. Would he actually be willing to go for a win with two Africans? Or was I walking into a trap since I'd have to justify being the third wheel, given that Rob would likely be a little bit larger than me come voting time?

But Zac was an E power and I was pretty sure that he would still be able to deliver North American votes for Cuba-Kenya-Zambia, as long as the North Americans liked the Africans. Any other pathway seemed less likely to have 2 Africans in the final 3. So I threw most of my eggs into that basket.

From this point onwards, it was just a matter of vote math. How many votes did we need, how many did we have, and how many did we need to prevent a non-preferred coalition to pass? It was little things like this which made me take Yemen. Ling didn't understand it but it was simple: I couldn't predict his votes. I had zero idea where they would go. We were already at the point of almost being able to prevent any other coalition from passing with any reasonable margin. So I took one of them, preferring to give up his possible support in exchange for one less vote to non-desirable coalitions.

It was also for this reason that I somewhat grabbed Australia and made him safe from my own extended coalition of allies. I wanted Australian votes to go to my preferred coalitions, not simply any coalitions with North Americans and Africans in them. That's where we get the margin of votes necessary to secure victory.

Voting was almost predictable. Our running estimate was somewhere in the 55 vote range, which we delivered. In the perfect world, we had 61 possible votes but Pakistan reneged on his vote commitment (as did I, so no harm done!). We counted up everyone's votes correctly. It wasn't until Wednesday morning that I voted for the German coalition. Then I panicked, counted his coalition as having more than 41 (I guessed in the 47 range) and pulled my votes. Better safe than sorry? Little did I know that it had all the impact. For no explicable reason, the entire group of North Americans voted for that coalition. That was not something that anyone predicted, nor took into account.

So if Germany did anything to earn those votes, kudos to him. Heck, either way, kudos to him for keeping himself in a situation where he could earn those votes. If that meant just holding your own defensively and earning the respect of your enemy, then so be it! Votes come from all different areas in this game and it is the votes you least expect that make the difference.

It was a good end for my game though. This was a very hard game, full of obstacles. The fact that Kenya, Cuba and Zambia won this game is the final say in the argument about geography vs. player calibre, as far as I'm concerned. If three ridiculously overmatched powers can fight and scratch their way to victory, that's proof enough that anyone can take any power for a win. NWO is almost as balanced as you can get, without 1000 test runs of course :P
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Post 13 Jul 2015, 12:37 pm

A select few comments:

Congo/Zambia - Trevor and Rob, great allies. We actually came pretty close to passing a 3x African coalition, something I don't think we ever thought was a reality. Although, Rob, I should remind you of our discussions back in 2016 or so when I said that if we could gather the protest vote, we could do it. Well.... :laugh:

Seriously though, a great game with the two of you. Trevor, like I said by email, this win is as much yours as ours.

Cuba - You don't know how often I told my alliance and the rest of the map to be scared of the North Americans because you were there. Once you were in the trusted circle, I knew you had the voting chops to help us out. I'm just glad you didn't push a 2x North American requirement on us. Then North America and Africa would have had to discuss a few things, perhaps with guns and nukes and such!

USA - A pretty good game by Dario, maybe a few slip ups here and there. USA is not easy, it takes a very careful hand to manage a victory there. You were always easy to work with and negotiate with.

China - Oh boy, where to start and where to finish. I hope you learned something this game. You played a great game of standard diplomacy. You took pieces off of all of our neighbours, allies included, and built a near impregnable fortress in Asia. Good for you. Where did that get you? Nowhere near the victory line. I had to consider you at least a working partner but I have never been so frustrated at the lack of willingness to share plans or information. Maybe you never really saw Africa as a potential partner. Given that you outright stabbed every single one of your allies, maybe that was a good thing for me. Either way, our whole dynamic culminated in 2019 when I sent you 5-6 emails and you responded with complete non-sequiturs. Every time. And you wonder why I wanted to take Yemen out of your hands? I can't even keep this rant straight just thinking about the number of times I shook my head at your comments or plays. My only regret is that Kenya never had the power to overtake China and just finish the problem that way!

India/Sri Lanka - Well this was an interesting dynamic. Put Rob in Sri Lanka and Randy in India and the mid-game is totally different. I think Ling got to Randy and convinced him that I was the originator of all things anti-Sri Lanka. I'm quite sure I mused about heading east. I also mused about heading north and west too. Anyway, I'm glad that Randy and I patched up our differences long enough to let the game continue. Rob, on the other hand, was always easy going and understanding of the situation. I wish we could have been able to come over and save you. Oh well, next game!

Turkey - Fred! Another guy I openly offered African partnership too. Maybe we never got off the ground when I didn't join in the first anti-China strike. I just wasn't ready, then it was over before it got started. I'm not sure what happened post-2016 but you seemed to just go into a shell and lose your head.

France - Another man in the list of players whose relationships with me were tarnished by Ling. I think we did realize it though, it was just too late to get anything going. Play this again and we'll take care of China together this time :laugh:. Seriously though, Russ, if you want to play a colonial power again, stop ignoring your colonies! They are all vital to a AB power winning this game!

Saudi Arabia - How can I forget my little buddy? Alex was a great ally, he did as I needed and I tried to give him some fun in return. You will probably never see a Saudi Arabian in Australia ever again!

Germany - Special mention for you as well, since you played the game pretty well. I'm sure you learned a lot this game and I'll be wary of you down the road :P

GM - Hah, you think I'm gonna compliment you? Wrong!

...

Ok, right. A great job, consistent decisions and timing, everything that is needed in this community. It's quite a commitment to GM this game and you deserve a beer or three. I'll even buy it, since you were the first (and only?) one to see the African alliance as the danger it was!

Everyone else - I dunno, good game? I'm probably forgetting a few people or missed a few things. Ask me anything.


That's it for me. I may or may not be stepping out for a game or two. Even asking for a small power wasn't enough to make my life easier. Great game everyone, this was a really weird dynamic of a game and I look forward to discussing rule or map changes in other threads!
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Post 13 Jul 2015, 3:43 pm

Well to be fair I did not want a big power with colonies. I just did that with the USA and wanted something smaller. It was not so much ignoring my colonies as having so many options that I could not defend them all at the same time. So I had to choose areas where I thought I could make a deal long enough to build. Of course every year another "friend" kicked me in the junk so I lost a whole lot.

Saudi Arabia I saved because I wanted the player to have a shot at playing the game. I am very glad you kept him going.

Otherwise solid game I think next time I will definitely be more aggressive I should have hit you or Turkey in the beginning but I got caught up in the Chinese Triangle and never found my way out.

But for the record of all my allies China kept most of hit word throughout the game.
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Post 13 Jul 2015, 10:45 pm

Oh, no doubt, it's not pleasant trying to play a colonial power without having the time to do so. Certainly not your fault, it was just something you did as USA last game as well. I just assumed that strategy carried over.

I'll be curious to see how China actually relayed messages between us. I'd wager he wasn't as entirely truthful to you as you may have thought, although that's not a surprise in the game of diplomacy. For example, he was the one that said it was ok to take Somalia. It clearly wasn't, given your reaction. Now, I may have gone to take it anyway but that wasn't really the point.

I do wonder how the game would have gone had you and I managed an agreement to attack China. Then you and I would have had a solid arrangement in the Mideast while you worked closely with my ally in West Africa. That could have led to a pretty powerful alliance!
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Post 15 Jul 2015, 8:29 am

Goodness me, I didn't want to get embroiled here but I have to pull you up on some of the inconsistencies there.

First up China had plenty of allies. Russia, France, Vietnam and later on Australia and Pakistan to name a few. It's just people wanted to keep attacking them which left me in very difficult positions. I even considered myself allied with Kenya for the first few years but you were quite difficult to work with and it seemed to me you were only interested in a very one-sided relationship. I couldn't understand it as I thought China + Africa was a very good match. It was incredibly frustrating.

Also to set the record straight, China organised the saving of Saudi. I asked France to convoy and Kenya to support. I even recall you promising that 'China would recieve full credit' for setting it up and basically handing you some votes for free - a promise Kenya failed to deliver on and a gift from China you seemed to forget all too easily (or did you?)...

It was reasonably obvious what was going on at the start and that there was a good chance you were involved with Egypt. I didn't know for certain of course but I assumed as much - I let it go at the time but it was certainly a black mark against you on the trust side of things. I actually came close to bouncing you a second time in fall of year 1 but thought I'd give you guys the benefit of the doubt. I wonder how things might have played had I kept you to one SC after the first year...

Its interesting, you've mentioned several times how China/France tried to appease you and made every effort to be peaceful. Its true we did. You then say you were looking to shunt us out on more than one occasion and things like I wouldnt share information. I think I did play the game too close to my chest this time round in large parts but at the same time, I'm not going to share my deepest thoughts with someone who is obviously not acting in my interests, which you clearly weren't and have admitted as much.

I actually did believe they were legitimately looking for peaceful arrangements except neither of them seemed to figure it out:if my core alliance is to my south/west, and they are asking for peace in the north/east, where am I supposed to grow into? It became a longstanding sticking point between Ling and I.


figure what out? I mean thats basically an admisison you didnt see any prospect of it working - but later you suggest you did want it to work!??!

yes we figured it out, it was fairly obvious wasn't it? I made a lot of concessions to see you have some growth. China effectively vacated Africa for one thing. But there is a limit to how much you can give someone. From your EOG it isn't clear whether you ever actually thought a relationship with China could work or not, the implication is that you just saw China/France as problems that needed to be dealt with - in which case I don't think you can criticise us for not trusting you. You tried to get me to stab France nearly every year and I was told you were talking dirty to him as well. I didn't hold that against you either, it's what happens on the board that counts. It was pretty frustrating having to wait for you to come back from 'african alliance discussions' before we could nail down plans as well - I recall at least two occassions in the first few years where you tried to use them to change previous agreements as well or raise new issues, both very close to a deadline. You were shaking your head at me? Trust me, mine was shaking twice as hard at you. I think the summary is though that if you are honest with yourself you just weren't serious about Kenya-China.

I'm not going to talk about Somalia any more as I don't have any hair left to tear out, but other than to say I think that situation probably summarised our relationship and from my perspective did end the idea that we were 'allied' - I believe I said as much at the time.

I suspect most of your comments around avoiding questions and non sequiturs are post that period? If so then yeh, I felt you were just probing for information after that rather than actually serious about a relationship. Maybe I was wrong?

On Sri Lanka - erm, you were pretty much the originator of things anti-sri lanka or at least there at the inception? You pushed me so hard to stab (I'll still call it a stab even though he hit me first but anyway) Sri-Lanka even citing the idea that Randy was already allied with Rob/Zac and we needed to counter it. Your original plan was we hit Turkey/India/Sri Lanka all at the same time with Zambian nukes helping - that was too much for me (and Rob - was he ever serious about it?) in one go but when the idea died down your response was to make sure Sri Lanka was still getting hit? Come on - you're being a bit disingenous there. Not that it mattered, I ended up siding with Australia against Sri Lanka for other reasons.

I dunno Dave - I sense a bitterness in your EOG towards China which I don't think is deserved. I suspect it's because of my comments to you about the NWO variant. I know it can gather a passionate support in people but you should try and keep the two separate.

anyway, congrats on the win.

Dave
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Post 15 Jul 2015, 8:35 pm

SuperAnt wrote:The fact that Kenya, Cuba and Zambia won this game is the final say in the argument about geography vs. player calibre, as far as I'm concerned. If three ridiculously overmatched powers can fight and scratch their way to victory, that's proof enough that anyone can take any power for a win. NWO is almost as balanced as you can get, without 1000 test runs of course :P


The E powers need less votes to win though, that's a big factor in their favour for ending up in a winning coalition.