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Duel 2 Alamaze - Game 105 Remembered
#8
So that was pretty fun.

I played SO in game 105. We had three players of recent Alamaze experience in Hawk (AN), Nikodemus (DE) and paway (RD) but the rest of us, mostly recruited from the Duel2 play-by-mail community, were all completely new to Alamaze. Because of this, the three pros made a point of going easy on us (at least while we were all floundering in the early game). They all gave out tons of advice and let us find our feet at our own pace.


EARLY GAME

IRL I was travelling a lot and my early game was abysmal, not only because of immense misunderstandings about rules, misreading the reaction/emissary tables, and my terrible proof-reading of my order sheets, but I also did a lot of inefficient things with my armies and personnel, and I mis-budgeted several of my early turns, meaning that many orders were wasted and I actually got no PC gains until turn 6.

Most foolishly of all, rather than focusing on the land grab I had been itching to see some different dynamics early on, regardless of proper strategy, so I ended up losing a level 5 agent in a failed assassination against Rangers in the R9 city, and I discovered how weak SO troops were when I was thoroughly beat up by a neutral village I should never have attacked. Still, I eventually had a battle victory and also got to exploit the broken Chaos mechanic to devastating success, when I landed on a stray WA town in Region 9 where he had two brigades and decent early game wizards sitting very peacefully. None of these actions were of any value diplomatically or strategically, but being a noob I couldn't resist trying them out all the same.

When the scores came out with turn 6 I was in a very poor last place, though I had finally gained a first town. Despite that assassination attempt I made early peace with RA and also with DA and DW. I ceded my control claim of Region 9 to the Rangers to guarantee his ESO and we hoped to arrange mine for turn 15 though it ended up proving too tricky. DW took Region 3, DA took Region 6, and between the four of us we wanted to get stuck into war as soon as we could, planning to hit the Giants in Region 5 and the Black Dragons in Region 10.

Elsewhere on the map, WI was first to get regional control, taking Region 2 in turn 4. He was allied with EL who took Region 1 very soon after. The two of them kind of turtled for a good 10 turns, working on artifacts, training and economic consolidation, while the rest of us got stuck into various costly battles.

But the biggest dynamic within the game was unquestionably the AN/TR alliance. From turn 1, TR wanted to come out fighting, and boy did he pick fights with pretty much everyone around him. AN focused on keeping DE and RD disrupted (for honourable reasons he didn't attack new players but was happy for TR to do so) while TR started marching all over the southwest.


MID GAME

From turn 9 or 10, Rangers invaded Black Dragons, and Dwarves invaded Giants. I sent a couple of emissaries into Region 5 with the DW but I focused mainly on backing Rangers up in Region 10. Dark Elves were also present in both regions.

In Region 10 we had a pretty fun war. BL was allied with WA, but WA was defending himself against AN/TR. So we hoped BL would be an easy campaign, though it was anything but that. He fought every step of the way, winning several battles against RA and our progress was slow, though gradually our numbers advantage worked in our favour. Progress against the GI was also good to start with but he too proved himself in combat against the DW and halted our progress.

In the western conflicts I saw that RD and DE made some deft manoeuvres and for a long while it wasn't clear who had the upper hand, but AN/TR recruited GI and EL and by that point, essentially had unstoppable armies. At somewhere around the turn 15 mark, AN and GI swarmed into the DA in region 6, and EL attacked the DW, effectively neutralising my allies' offensive opportunities as they had to go into defensive mode.

UN and GN dropped in turn 16, having not made much impact in the game previously. I think they were already inactive and were defeated by TR long before that point.

By about turn 18, RA and I had taken most of Region 10, and I had an invisible p7 poised to strike the main BL army with Summon Deaths to finally try and take him down for good. However, the game-changer for us was the point WI announced his plans to invade Region 9 to start working on his SVC. He was pretty gentlemanly about it too, giving a couple of turns notice, and being extremely reluctant to fight anyone anyway.

At this point, me, RA, DW, DA, and the other beset-upon nations DE, RD, BL and WA realised that an SVC was imminent but might come out of the blue from any of GI, WI, AN, TR and EL. We had to defend together with whatever we could.

RA and I brokered immediate peace with BL/WA and I ceded pretty much all my Region 10 gains back to BL so he could try to feed his armies. So I never got to fight the BL on the field, which was just as well in retrospect because my army would certainly have been annihilated. He was a fun opponent. I would definitely fight beside him or against him in another game.


END GAME

From about turn 23 we tried to engineer a counter/defence/final stand. While Rangers and Dark Elves attacked AN/TR, DW continued fighting EL and I supported DA against GI in region 6. With the imminent arrival of WI we knew that it was going to end badly for the eastern coalition anyway. DE and RD were now out of the running but kept harassing AN/TR for as long as they the units to do so. They also kept the strategic advice coming, for the rest of the game.

When WI arrived in Region 9, he first apologised to the RA and then attacked him. Then he apologised to me and attacked me.

My armies weren't worth much, but with Summon Demon I killed the GI king as we speculated (maybe incorrectly) that he was closest to his SVC and then right after that, I killed the WI king. Those two turn results were the best news I got all game. WI returned the favour, but only after he had spoken to me and confirmed that we were going to continue fighting, and had reminded me that he now had artifacts protecting his new king.

In turn 26, AN and GI had knocked me out of Region 6 but for one short, glorious turn I gained the city and control of Region 9 before WI's numbers advantage started to tell. He swatted away my troops and emissaries and when his Summon Demon killed my king, I lost 10 influence in a single turn.

By turn 28, Rangers had been evicted from Region 9, Dwarves from Region 3, Dark Elves from Region 6, Black Dragons from Region 10 and I was down to a couple of PCs but with a few turns of gold to keep my emissaries busy, an army still hungry for enemy contact, and a P7-3-3 wizard team still itching to make someone suffer.

Turn 30: RA, BL, DA, DW and RD were all eliminated or dropped, having nothing left to fight with, but mostly all keen to return when we get a new game started.

At this point the eastern coalition was just WA, SO and DE, we were all bankrupt and probably had only one or two PCs between us. It became a concern to WI that his allies had taken too much other territory and he'd probably not be able to gain his SVC without stabbing one of them, which he was definitely not prepared to do. It was also likely that they might not have room to gain their SVCs and that we'd possibly be fighting until one of the other game-end criteria was reached, either turn 40 or the elimination of all the smaller players. So WI and I agreed to continue fighting in Region 9 anyway. I didn't know he'd given an artifact to TR but it figures with his sense of honour that he'd sacrifice something to help bring the game to a close.

On turn 32, the penultimate turn, at the gates of my final town, the main SO and WI armies were to finally meet on the field, but with a P10, P7 and P7 at his disposal, the WI was able to wipe away 11 innocent SO brigades before they could even finish their breakfast. So, when the battle commenced, I had a demoralised and devastated single brigade left, who felt it their duty to charge into a row of spears and mark their place in history.

Both AN and TR tried and failed an SVC check, and AN landed his immense army at my final town too.

For turn 33, WI asked again if I was still going to fight him. With both him and AN on my doorstep with massive armies, I only had one answer. As the TR claimed his hard-fought and well-deserved victory, my p7,3,3 and a rag-tag band of survivors were faced off against the enemy, and were crushed to the last man, at the gates of Fort Goliath, where now the banner of the AN proudly flies.


POST MORTEM

The scoring system did not reward me. 8 players finished the game and I ended up in 11th place, behind others who had gone out. I had had a slow start, was always short of PCs, never made HC, owned a city only for 2 turns all game and controlled a region for just 1 turn, and I never owned a single artifact all game, so my point earnings never really got off the ground.

The finishing players in order were TR, WI, AN, EL and GI, the western coalition who had all been ultimately successful in their campaigns, and then DE, SO and WA. We weren't the only players from the losing coalition who fought hard, we were just the ones that were able to hold onto something until the end.


SOME HIGHLIGHTS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

In the late game TR won a bid for the HC with 250,000 gold, being the most remarkable example of conspicuous consumption in gaming history.

Whether on the giving or the receiving end of king assassinations, Summon Demon was great fun either way.

In turn 32 I speculated with a 1 gold bid for an empty HC seat. I didn't win but it would have been a funny way to earn extra points.

In turn 32 I was comprehensively zapped by WI's p10-7-7. It was fitting that I could meet a noble death at the hands of a P10 called Ry Vor.

One example of my poor ordering: In turn 5 I had a 2 brigade group on 2 ships, and mistakenly tried to recruit another brigade, obviously illegally. The game auto-processing sunk my ships, my 2 brigades and a p2 wizard, all to my immense horror. Thankfully Cipher rectified the adjudication so it just disallowed my recruitment, and restored the brigades and wizard to life. Thanks Cipher!

I imagine this was an atypical game because of the learning curve for all involved. There was a lot of banter shared in the D2 chatroom between allies and enemies alike, and we shared lots of questions, battle reports, SVCs, and other tactical clues/details which would probably remain very secret in a second game. There was one accidental emissary usurping between DA/DW which DA was very apologetic about, but as far as I saw, everyone played with the utmost honesty and treated friends and foe with equal honour.

Thanks for arranging the game and recruiting me, Nikodemus! Looking forward to the next one.


MY COMMENDATIONS

Iron Willed: Destitute Noble (WA). He was fighting against the odds, up against the biggest players for the whole game. Apart from my one-off surprise early battle, I didn't directly campaign against him while we were at war, and when we teamed up I wasn't in a position to support him directly. But he was stubborn as hell and when we formed the 'losers coalition' he kept going with energy for the fight, the whole way through. Kulvac (BL) was also a stubborn opponent for me and RA, and paway (RD) has to get a mention for the way his armies kept AN/TR at bay for a hell of a long time.

Chancellor: Nikodemus (DE). He recruited most of the players and made the arrangements to set this game up. He, Hawk (AN) and paway (RD) all helped the newcomers immensely, generally giving advice at the expense of their own game interests.

Infamous: Tripwire (TR). His desire to fight fight fight fight fight from the get-go was the dynamic that shaped this whole game, as he overwhelmed one opponent after another. He was funny in the D2 chatroom and dropped in to laugh at his own mistakes and (few) military defeats, mainly at the hands of RD. I didn't meet him in combat or even land in a PC of his, all game. I'm pretty grateful that I didn't.

Honorary Mention: There isn't a category for him but The Dark One (WI) was the most honourable player. He upheld all his agreements with allies, even to his cost. He wanted to play an artifact-based game rather than a war-based one so he was consistently apologetic about attacking people, and kept up a regular communication with me the whole time we were at war. He clearly got the game and played extremely well from the outset - it was just too crowded for him to engineer his own victory. Would definitely enjoy fighting with or against him again.
Nitnux
?? in game 116
SO in game 105
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Messages In This Thread
Duel 2 Alamaze - Game 105 Remembered - by Ry Vor - 10-01-2013, 11:47 PM
RE: Duel 2 Alamaze - Game 105 Remembered - by Nitnux - 10-04-2013, 11:20 PM

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