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(Ambition and Empire)

Post:< 21937 
Subject:< Upcoming A&E Game >
Topic:< dc386 >
Category:< Active Games >
Posted:Nov 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm
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This message is in reply to post 21932:



Outstanding!  I'm looking forward to the upcoming contest.


One 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)?




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


In 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



On Nov 24, 2011, at 12:24 AM, VonPowell(at)aol.com wrote:



A very entertaining read.  


I 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.


You 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


I 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.


I'm looking forward to the next A&E game.  Until then...


Happy Stabbing,




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

Austria post-game - Adriaan (1763-1766):

It 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

Anyways, 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?

First 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 favour.

Secondly, 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!

Strategy. 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.

I 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.

Chris 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...

Speaking 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

Nick 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.

My 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 well-played.

Mixed 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.

I've 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 Burgundy.

Michael, 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

Finally, 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 defense 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

In 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.

Best regards,

Adriaan Tichler

P.S. I've uploaded photos of a few of my reasons for abdication, for
your interest.


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

Thanks 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

I 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

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.

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 me.

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

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!

Ottoman Empire: 
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 us.

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



There are 5 Messages in this Thread:

Upcoming A&E Game (vonpowell) Nov 24, 02:17 pm

Upcoming A&E Game (DrSwordopolis) Nov 24, 02:19 pm

Upcoming A&E Game (dknemeyer) Nov 24, 02:24 pm

Upcoming A&E Game (vonpowell) Nov 24, 02:27 pm

Upcoming A&E Game (FuzzyLogic) Nov 25, 12:57 pm

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