NWE Single Player 2018 - A Very Berry Postmortem

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    • NWE Single Player 2018 - A Very Berry Postmortem

      War is easily the single most effective and efficient strategy in this game. Unfortunately, I like it the least.

      For this tournament, I decided to employ a strategy that would best be described as colonial. I did the math before hand and realized that it was possible to complete level 3 trading posts just before the game's time limit expired. My plan was to conquer a handful of countries very early on, develop those new territories economically, and use that foundation of resources to eventually power a major colonial empire, grown from a university planted in the new world.

      The biggest risk to this strategy was an extreme martial strategy. If a rival player ended the game early by accruing the necessary VPs, my own VPs would be significantly behind. I was aiming for the time limit, and the farther away from it we were when the game ended, the worse my performance would be. However, I was buoyed by the fact that my inefficient performance in the 1st rd managed to result in a come from behind win on the final day. I had a proof of concept in place and was ready to move forward.

      Fast forwarding a bit, this tournament truly started to take a solid shape in the 3rd game from the end (ie the game before the game before the championship game, whatever that round would be called). In this game, Katbest rode out to an early lead and appeared to be quite nearly invincible. Mariusz 72 was also in this game and took it upon himself to be my own personal cheerleader. He constantly prodded me to keep attacking more and more, to the point of even offering me gifts of resources to spur on my conquest. I thought this was weird... until I realized that the 3rd and 1st place finishers would advance into the same game. Mariusz and Katbest wanted to make sure they were together in the next round. My suspicions were all but confirmed when Katbest attacked Mariusz, gaining just enough land to accrue the necessary VPs to end the game, taking just enough land from Mariusz to drop him to 3rd behind me.

      I do not mind being a pawn, but I want to know about it. Being manipulated without being told I was being manipulated left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

      In the next round, I was placed near The Great Dictator. Having played several games recently with him, I thought we would be able to work together. I was Toulouse and agreed to help him (Burgundy) by taking out France. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. Due to misunderstandings regarding the timing, I was not in position when he began to attack. France was able to defend himself, and TGD, who appeared to believe that he was thwarted by ducats, decided to go inactive. Having an inept ally surely contributed to his willingness to forget the tournament...

      As the game progressed, I was falling behind the other 3 remaining players faster than I anticipated. France had developed into a machine that was rolling safely into 1st.

      That is when Marzohnne and Full Flaps approached me. They had been working together and decided to guage my interest in joining them. I shared TGD's suspicions regarding France (though I could prove nothing), and I was extremely wary of Katbest and Mariusz advancing together into the finals, so I agreed to help them. We quickly eliminated an obviously frustrated France. I can't blame him for being frustrated at the 3v1, though I did find it humorously ironic when he accused all 3 of us of using ducats. The game ended quickly with Marzohnne, Full Flaps, and myself advancing.

      Going into the finals, I knew that Katbest and Mariusz were working together. With at least a 3v2 in place, I figured it was quite likely that Birdman66 would be pushed into an alliance with them as soon as the sides became apparent, assuming he wasn't already working with them. I believed a 3v3 was ultimately inevitable.

      Unfortunately, country placement helped decide the finals. Katbest and Mariusz, who could easily be considered as the best 2 players in this match, had a huge starting advantage of being back to back in Bohemia and Bavaria. With me in the Netherlands and Marzohnne in Castile, there was very little we could do to help Full Flaps defend as Austria. He was neutralized almost immediately.

      The best counter our team could devise was to try to quickly eliminate Birdsong66 in France to guarantee a 2v2 and hope that they aren't a million times better at this game than I am (spoiler alert: they are). We succeeded in capturing all his French holdings, but only just before Bohemia and Bavaria had turned their full force on me. I held out as long as I could, but they quickly overwhelmed me. As such, it was only a matter of time before they would be able to overpower Castile.

      All six players managed to stay alive, with Birdsong reestablishing himself, with the help of his allies, in his historic French homeland. Our team of 3 made our way to the new world with our tails between our legs and waited for the game to mercifully end.

      I finished the game in 121st place overall, 6th of 6 active players. I feel that my finish is an accurate assessment of my skill, as I was likely the 6th best player in this game.

      In conclusion, Katbest, Mariusz 72, and Birdsong66 won this game fair and square. They are superior players, and their impressive performances deserve all the accolades possible. Any hopes we had at an upset were rendered ineffective by country placement which gave them an additional advantage that, as some of the best players in NWE, they likely did not need. Good game, well played, and thank you all for such an enjoyable experience. See you next tournament :)
    • As I was "called to the board", let me put in a handful of my comments.
      My predecessor, Dogberry, has quite accurately outlined the course of the last tournament rounds. I personally do not consider myself a good player because I know they are better than me. I achieved my position thanks to diplomacy and time ...
      When it comes to my cooperation with Mariusz, 72 it all goes well. But finally, someone said smarter than me: "wars win at the tables of conversations" :))
      I also have several proposals for organizers to enter in the next round:

      1/ Do not show the "ladder" of the tournament, because it favors a
      different kind of combination (I used it myself by advancing with
      Mariusz72 from one map thanks to taking 1st and 3rd place),

      2/ In the final round, I would rather give the country a choice of
      players, because the current "random" system turned out to be extremely
      unfair: me, Mariusz and birdmann66 already agreed in the semi-final that
      we have to stay together because our rivals from the parallel
      semi-final probably did the same . In a random arrangement of countries where birdmann66 was between Holland
      and Castile and Full Flaps playing Austria was between me and Mariusz,
      two players were eliminated at the beginning of the game (and each of
      the finalists who would be in such a situation would have to fall during
      the attack two players for one day ...).

      So these are things to improve in the next edition of the tournament.
      In conclusion, I would like to thank all participants for the fun and see you in the next edition.

      Special thanks to Mariuszowi72, because thanks to his dedication (and sleepless nights) we managed to achieve this success. He deserved to win this tournament :))
    • I have to agree somewhat with things, as previously posted.

      I am irritated about this final game, on a number of levels.
      However, instead of just complaining, I tried to put forth a few ideas on how to address and fix issues.

      1 - RoW : It seemed that birdman66 got RoW (Right of Way) with just about everyone early on. How is that even possible? I have never had RoW earlier than day 15, and never achieved RoW with anyone other than my allies in the round?

      I KNOW this happened because I had spies going most of the game, at least until my capital was taken out.

      Because he had RoW on day 2, he was able get some admins and troops past AIs in the Palatinate, without causing a war, which allowed him to survive and return eventually, while we were nowhere near as fortunate.
      without his early RoWs, he would not have survived and it's very likely he would not be number three, unless the other two managed to wipe us out completely.

      I have to admit, I suspected him of cheating somehow, simply because I have never seen this happen before anywhere on any game, and went so far as to report it.

      How to fix this : Put it in the game, FOR TOURNAMENT PLAY ONLY, to not allow anyone to get RoW with anyone except player to player, because the randomness of this allowed a player to survive when he probably shouldn't have.

      2 - PLACEMENT : I have to agree with Katbest that the placement of players in the round was most unfortunate for our side. The players who placed one and two were also back to back, from the start of the game, in that they had Bohemia & Bavaria. Their other ally was in France. Our 3 were out in the Netherlands (DogberryWL), Austria (Fullflaps), and Castile (myself).

      From that position, it's impossible for anyone on our side to adequately defend anyone, who is attacked on day one by 2 players.

      If how the beginning positions are left the same way, I wouldn't even try to play in the tournament again. Too many variables, and one unlucky placement at the end, and you lose everything.

      HOW to fix it : Take a look at the game map, and find 6 positions on the map. If left to me I'd say: Brandenburg, Ottoman, Naples, France, England & Castile.

      (I always find it weird that Castille is spelled Castile by the Germans, and Castille by English speaking people. The wiki shows Castile, which seems to me says the guy making the post was German, because the map they used it is spelled Castille, which just serves to confuse again. In the original Spanish it's Castilla)

      These positions are far enough away from each other, in that if someone takes everything on day ONE and attacks someone else, and they have an ally do the same, destruction of the person is not assured.

      Everyone is close enough to each other, yet far enough to not be an island unto themselves.

      3 - TIMING : Finally, I was very irked by the game ending 15 days early. Dog's strategy as he outlined, is one I use in most every game, though recently in one, I attacked the number one and two players in the game simultaneously, just to spice it up.

      The thing is, the game ended 7.5 hours before I was getting a core province again. After, I would have had a capital in another 12 hours.

      Unlike most folks, I fully use the market, buying and selling, at profits, and used it in this game to catch up. Originally I had calculated that without using the markets it would have taken me to day 23 or 24 to get the resources to regain a capital. I was on pace to have it done by day 16.

      I was also in a place, that my enemies had not yet spied upon me or scouted, with plenty of opportunity to spread out and colonize, something that none of our enemies had done. Oh, one of them had conquered other player's colonies, but they hadn't actually colonized any themselves.

      That level of laziness could have easily work against them. I also saw that our team had the control of the game as the gamehost. If one of them got lazy, and stepped away for a couple of days, he would have been on the outside, looking in, and wondering how THAT happened?

      The reasoning is, the game is set to be 30 days. Laziness does have a tendency to creep in, when something become more of a chore, than fun. I get that.

      But I had a serious chance to be back in the game and be relevant again, and had it ripped away from me, without being consulted.

      Go ask a girl. They will tell you it's like being raped.

      (As a side note, I play a lot of World of Warcraft. In it, one of the professions, Enchanting, has become public use in dungeons, so long as a player in the group has that profession, in that magic items found in the dungeon are automatically allowed to be disenchanted, without the enchanter's permission, or him being paid for his services. As a result, I have a lot of characters, where I quit being an Enchanter for that reason. It's also a reason I don't play the game as much anymore.)

      Unfortunately, we'll never know, because the game ended suddenly, without anyone asking me or as far as I know, or anyone on our team as to how we felt about that?

      How to fix it : If you want to end a round early, be sure that it's okay with all the players on all sides concerned. Ending a round early, without consultation, unless the player is totally eliminated, just leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.
    • A couple things...

      I am not certain on whether or not birdman66 had right of way early. Admins can move through countries without RoW, and he was definitely making use of this. I cannot confirm having seen any troops moving through foreign territory though. However, I know I did create a lot of confusion when I accidentally spread false information at one point about his troop movements. At one point, I misread the board and mistook some of his administrators that were just on the edge of my sight radius for actual troops. I messaged my allies saying "wtf is this" before I realized my mistake. I believe I followed it up with them with the corrected information, but it is possible I forgot or that it got buried in their inbox behind other messages. It is still possible he had RoW surprisingly early - but the evidence I had for it was false. I apologize for any confusion I created.

      Additionally, the game only ended early because the VP conditions had been met. It might be an interesting change for the next tournament to set a mandatory time period (ie 30 days) that cannot end early, but that would be a significant change to the natural flow of the game. It could be interesting to see me try to claw my way back up from literally nothing, Katbest and Mariusz battle it out for first longer (assuming no prearranged deals), or whatever other scenarios this could bring. This additional time could also be used to manipulate finishes though, so caution may be advisable here.

      Speaking of potential changes...

      I think the best way to address the placement issue we are all highlighting is relatively simple - let players choose their starting country. Besides accounting for neighboring rivals, this also allows players to dictate their strategies rather than having it dictated to them by their starting countries. For example, my colonial strategy was a bit harder to accomplish the one round where I spawned as Bohemia. I would have preferred any number of North African or Western European countries with easier access to colonies.

      There are many different ways players could choose their countries that could work with minimal delays. There are a ton of different ways this concept could be realized. I started to go through some of them before I realized I was typing a novel. Some quick examples include a draft, ranked preference, an auction, and more, most of which can be done live in real time or offline. Suffice to say, I have thoughts on the matter and would be willing to help the admins come up with a solution.

      If actual choice is not the direction the admins choose to go, then I recommend creating some restrictions. The easiest is a short mandatory peace period with human opponents (AI peace periods could also be interesting, but they are too buggy and affect too many aspects of the game that are unrelated to warfare). Another possibility is to not allow 2 human players to spawn next to each other. However considering every single game I played featured clustered human players, I think this might be both highly desirable and quite difficult to enact.

      While I offer these suggestions to improve future tournaments, please know that this was still a most pleasant experience on the whole. Thank you :)
    • One minor note I forgot to add... Choice should be available in all rounds, not just the final. I saw good players taken out on Day 1 in earlier rounds as well. The example that stands out the most of this was when Sweden (I forget who was leading them) eliminated Norway (Grand Prince Tim, if I remember correctly) before the latter could even log in almost.
    • When I made my comments earlier regarding placement of countries, the thought process was in part, to keep people who have pre made alliances, from coming in and going back to back.

      Back to back, is one of the earliest defense strategies, used in every war simulation, as well as actual combat.

      To allow folks the choice straight out, would enable 2 or more players to use this philosophy, and be able to band together through out every round, which makes it too easy. Total free choices would allow another Bavaria/Bohemia combo that is almost impossible to beat

      The 6 I mentioned, I did so in part for more historical situations as well. France, and England are natural as well as Germany represented by Brandenburg. Castile is great for Spain, and the Ottomans were a force until the end of the first world war. The final choice of Naples to represent Italy, could easily be changed out to Hungary or Austria, but in those cases the countries other than Naples are landlocked, which is either harder to make use of colonialism tactics, or gives an unfair defensive posture as compared to all the other powers.

      Aside from that, those 6, should be what persons are limited to in choice, based on how well they do in prior rounds...do well and get more gold, or do poorly, and get a choice you may like better?
    • I will admit, that I did not realize that the reason the game ended, was VP conditions had been met.

      But I will add that I did KNOW that birdman66 had RoW early, through both the use of spies AND the fact that he had troops that I SAW move through AIs territory (the Palatinate), AS well as the simple fact that he gained the territory of Crakow from Bohemia, simply by attacking it with his 2nd brigade on day 2, which is shown in the Gazette.

      You will please note that the game makes it impossible to trade provinces, prior to day 7. For France to take a province and survive, he simply had to get troops through a RoW, which he had with the Palatinate way too early. I could not get to his troops without having another war on my hands, but he avoided the war by having the RoW status.
    • Well, a few more comments:
      1 / Many ideas for improving the round and organizers should take a look at them ...
      I have to say that the Marzohne idea with the manual positioning of the
      state at a considerable distance from myself even more appeals to me. It can leave all the rounds as before and only change the final like this:
      The organizers (in the end, we must trust them) announce six countries
      distanced from each other and make a draw (eg Mr.Dutch in the dark draws
      the player to you).

      2 / Marzohne Your spies have misrepresented something. birdman66
      probably did not have the "Right of Passage" by Palatinate (although
      I'm sure I'm not), and Krakow is losing because I gave him one of his
      units (units can be cast from the beginning of the game).
      He got a few units from me and Mariusz, and for this reason he would have
      third place regardless of how the game would play, because we helped him
      with Mariusz to rebuild ...
    • I have put a lot of thought into what I wanted to write here. I will begin by acknowledging that I am probably not the third best player in this tournament. This was a team win and all of the credit for this victory belongs to my allies, Mariusz and Katbest, who kept me in the game. When it became obvious I was going to be over run I moved a couple of admins to neutral territory and stashed resources with my allies. Once the counter attack began they gave me troops and helped me rebuild my country. All of this was legal within the rules of the game.
      This charge of cheating I take most seriously and deny them in the strongest terms. The charge is as outrageous as it is ridiculous. My integrity aside, the idea that I could somehow hack the game to gain an early row is laughable. Does anyone know how I would even try to do that? And if I could do that why not just hack myself a bunch of armies? And if I had this magic row why not move all my troops across the border instead of letting them be wiped out by Marzohne and Dogberry?
      No, I am not a cheater. If you have evidence otherwise, show it. If not I am owed an apology.