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Post 14 Nov 2016, 2:15 am

First off, thanks to Brad for a fine job GMing.

This isn't exactly early, and it's certainly long-winded, as my EOGs nearly always are. Oh well.

So, I was happy when Brad randomly assigned me to play England. It's probably my favorite country to play, and certainly the one where I've had the most success. I've often done well in alliance with Germany in the past, but I wasn't sure whether to go with Germany or France this time around. I knew that Sendric in France was a top-flight player, therefore potentially both a valuable ally and a dangerous opponent (of course), while I was unfamiliar with Schlieffen in Germany. I started out being friendly to them both, and in F01 they were both OK with me taking Belgium; quite a coup. Russia and I made friendly noises as well about avoiding conflict, though I don't think either of us was terribly sincere about it. Also, I encouraged Italy's S01 move to Tyrolia, and knew before the fall turn that he was likely to move on into Munich with French support. I had already decided to work with France myself by that point. Still, after the F01 results, I regretted not having tried during that turn to talk Germany into a supported defense of Munich to keep Italy out, and a bounce in Sweden to limit Russia's growth. Had he done both, it would have been good for me, given me more choices moving forward, and might even have allowed me to take Holland in 02 with the excuse of being a German ally to help him against his many enemies. But Germany wasn't a good communicator and France was, so I'd made my choice, and in S02 I explicitly stabbed Germany. Otherwise, my early communication with Austria was minimal, mostly telling him I'd be strongly opposed to an RT. I spoke to both George in Italy and Guy in Turkey, but got the vibe that we were all pumping each other for info about our plans that none of us was really willing to share.

The dreaded RT did materialize, and unfortunately Austria was very ineffective at opposing it. Russia and I drifted into conflict, as was probably inevitable. Germany NMRed in S03, and again in F03, and was put into CD, which had a big impact on the game, also most unfortunate. Schlieffen also dropped out of another game at that same time, so that implies a real-life issue, and not just poor sportsmanship because he was losing. I hope he has now resolved that issue, but ask that he be sure he can keep his commitment before he joins another game.

I was glad I was already working with France, though I was worried because France was also working with Italy as well as me. I would have preferred if there had been some conflict brewing between them, because it would have drawn French power off my flank. Anyway, we had a somewhat strange triple alliance, France, England and Italy, against Russia and Turkey, with Germany in CD and being eliminated, and Austria quickly losing as well. France and England were allied, and so were France and Italy, but the alliance between England and Italy was basically an alliance of convenience. I tried to persuade Sendric to stab George, and I believe George tried to persuade him to stab me. As far as a triple alliance to dominate the game, my first choice was England, France, and Turkey, mostly because I thought Italy would be much easier to eliminate than Turkey. But I was willing to stick with the EFI as long as Sendric wanted to. I had no intention of stabbing France, and no front with Italy even if I did want to stab him. My front against Russia took some time to develop, but I finally got it going.

Then came F05. Sendric stabbed me and Italy in the same turn, and jumped out to a significant lead with 10 centers. I understand the timing of why he stabbed me then, because it was his last good chance for it. I didn't end up losing any units, but I lost 2 builds, and it totally killed the momentum of my Russian campaign. I don't understand at all why he stabbed George at the same time. It's like he was daring the board to unite against him, and that's pretty much what happened, but not without a few wrinkles.
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Post 14 Nov 2016, 2:23 am

Part 2

This first big wrinkle was that I panicked about the stab. I took it as a French solo attempt, and desperately wanted to organize a grand alliance against it. Italy was already at war with Sendric, and the only other country with a front against him was Russia. For this reason, and because I needed to pull units back from the Russian front to defend my homeland, I decided I needed to make immediate peace with Russia, and offered to return St. Pete to him to get the alliance off on the right foot. A more sober reflection might have convinced me that I could mount a decent defence while still holding St. Pete. And the other development was that Italy was persuading Turkey to turn against Russia at this same time. Italy hinted at it, but I didn't really believe it until I saw it. But by the time this came up, I'd already promised St. Pete to Russia, and I decided to keep my word. S06 was another momentous turn, when Italy and Turkey invaded 3 Russian centers in the south, while I gave him one in the north. George and Guy were quite upset with me. But at least my defence against Sendric was off to a decent start. And it was now clear that Russia would never be an important factor in any kind of anti-French alliance, while Turkey might play that role. With Italy and Turkey now as my best choices for allies, I turned around and retook St. Pete in F06.

Then in S07, I made my biggest blunder in the game. I wrote off Russia way too soon, and pulled my fleet from the Barents Sea, the sole support for St. Pete, west to help defend against the French. Yes, I kinda needed another unit on that front, but I should have realized that my best use for that unit was to make sure St. Pete was well defended. Otherwise, the turn went well. My defence continued against France, and he began to move forces south towards Italy, and I finally concluded that he was very unlikely to be able to invade my island. I tapped Moscow, enabling Guy to take Sevastopol, in exchange for his promise to help me take Moscow in the future. But Russia moved from Warsaw to Livonia, and St. Pete was suddenly completely vulnerable. In F07, I was able to finesse the conquest of Kiel from France, his first loss since he stabbed, but Russia did take St. Pete, and for the second time, the momentum of my Russian front was stalled. The biggest loss was the loss of my claim to take Moscow, as I now had to retake St. Pete first, and Turkey's position to take Moscow himself kept getting stronger. In F08, I actually missed another opportunity to walk into Moscow, but that was mostly due to miscommunications with Italy and Turkey that turn, and anyway I would have had to read Russia's mind to see that the opportunity was there.

If I had secured Moscow, I would have had a legitimate shot at a solo. But once Turkey secured it, then made extra sure of it by sewing up the north with armies in Livonia and Prussia, both Moscow and Warsaw were out of reach for me.

From about this point, it became mostly a mopping up exercise. I talked with France to try and stike a deal, especially once I had regained 2 centers from him to make up from his stab. He wanted me to stab Turkey and Italy, and after my blunder in S07, my position in the north was never strong enough to do much stab work. So I resumed attacking Sendric. Guy made it clear that he would not stab Italy, so that also limited my options. An ET dual alliance to take out all others would have been very interesting, and as a race for a solo, I would have liked my chances. But it was not to be. The EIT alliance became strained later, when Guy wrote an email to George saying that they should get back to their two-way IT partnership and cut me out, then sent it to me by mistake. But I didn't react, at least not right away, really because I knew they could hardly touch me.

Since I felt my solo possiblity was no longer on the table, I stuck with the EIT in the endgame. Guy then proposed a way to finish the last turn, with the 3 of us as close as possible in center count. I couldn't hold Berlin against them, so I was OK with ceding that, but I almost rejected the rest of the deal, because it called for George to take Paris, and George and I had already agreed that I would take that center. But then I concluded that one center wasn't worth making a huge fuss over. I was glad to top the board, because in my own not-so-humble opinion, I was the MVP against France, our primary enemy.

I finished with 12 centers and the board top in a 3-way 12/11/11 draw.

Should I have gone for more of a solo run? Hard to say. Paris was certainly in my grasp, and a quick stab might have gotten me Munich. Spain and Marseilles were not totally out of reach - if I got one, I would have had a good shot at the other. With Munich, retaking Berlin might have beee possible. So, giving myself the benefit of all doubts, that would put me at 17. But Moscow and Warsaw were clearly out of reach, and Italy and Turkey had plenty of fleets to protect Tunis, Rome, and Naples. So what could be my 18th center? Vienna, Trieste, Venice, Budapest - all virtually impossible. Even 17 was pretty close to impossible. 14 was conceivable, but that was only 2 more than I got by sticking with my alliance. To sum up, once I had lost my shot at Moscow, I no longer believed I could solo, and that's why I agreed to the 3-way draw.

Bob
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Post 14 Nov 2016, 5:14 pm

Nice EOG, Bob. I figured that once you started cranking on the fleets, you were not going to go for a solo. I agree that Russia was a turning point in the game, and I worked hard to get Turkey to keep moving north, into Moscow. I do kind of think that the email you alluded to about a two-way IT plan may have been a red herring to see how you'd react. I don't think Guy had any serious intention of taking you on. But yes, early on in the game I questioned Sendric about not moving into the Atlantic or pushing up into your backyard. He was hesitant to do that, possibly because he feared an Italian attack or he was uncomfortable with the German situation, as well. But I did keep pressing, if for no other reason, then to keep him thinking of other countries than Italy!
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Post 16 Nov 2016, 12:35 pm

Great EOG, Bob. But ... how the F do you remember all that?

This game lasted 6 months. I barely remember what I did last week.

Great game.
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Post 16 Nov 2016, 1:40 pm

Geezerguy wrote:Great EOG, Bob. But ... how the F do you remember all that?

This game lasted 6 months. I barely remember what I did last week.

Great game.


That's one reason I allied with you, Guy. I didn't have to worry about you bringing up any contradictions or lies.
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Post 16 Nov 2016, 2:19 pm

Thanks for the comments, George and Guy.

Fleets vs Armies: Deciding when to build armies and when fleets is a particularly tough side of the game for England. There's nearly always an immediate use for a fleet, and armies are more of a long-term investment. I misjudged it sometimes. It was a big pain that I had to take Kiel with a fleet, when I really wanted an army there. And it took me until the last turn of the game to finally get one there.

Memory: Well, my memory is pretty good for 59, but basically I studied the maps turn-by-turn while I was writing, and that reminded me of a lot of things. I didn't make any attempt to reread all the emails, though, because that's way too much of a chore.

It was a great game.
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Post 16 Nov 2016, 4:45 pm

I try to write up a turn summary of what I wrote and what I received for each season. It works out well for the first few years, then I get behind and it all goes to hell. One day I'll figure out a better method I can maintain.