Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

One reason Harry might not use the killing curse is that he wants to avoid the slippery slope that Mad-Eye warned of--once a wizard has used the curse once, it becomes easier to do so in the future.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

The Grand Alliance gambit pretty much forced the hand of the RG. I think that you did the right thing in attacking me, given the ranking system. The convoy was in your self-interest and I don't begrudge it too much, in retrospect. If you had succeeded I could see you as being the third party to the draw instead of me.

Small chat played an important part in the my relations with both you and Italy. It formed a bond strong enough that I chose to continue to support Italy for a while longer even after Hugh signaled strongly that he wanted to ally. This was an early handicap of Hugh's in his communication with me early game, but the handicap lessened as I became more comfortable with the medium later in the game.

At the time of our conversation, though, the prospect of a Grand Alliance was quite frightening. I still have the draft of an angry e-mail to Hugh telling him that I wasn't going to stop the Western Alliance and that he'd better stop talking to my enemies and act like a real ally! Fortunately, I saved the draft, slept on it, and woke up the next morning and realized how stupid it was.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

If you'd warned me that you were supporting Italy into Serbia to sow confusion, then I wouldn't have been so bothered. But even so, I think you needed to pick sides between Italy and me that season. You looked like you had picked Italy, so I was correct to warn the West about IR.> quoted text

This sums up my mistake pretty well. My deception had no purpose and I gained nothing from it. I attribute this to the way that I was compartmentalizing negotiations at the time. The agent in charge of Turkish negotiations considered us as already allied, and wanted to signal accordingly. Self-deception is a wonderful signalling tool sometimes, except when you actually succeed in deceiving yourself.

That's right. I was a bit confused about why my emails didn't move the West. Did they think that I would stab you myself to get revenge, even though I made it very clear that I wouldn't act alone against you? Did I manage to annoy them with my messages? Did they fail to understand the significance of a strong IR (which switched to an RT in 1904)? Or both: they failed to understand the significance of the growing alliance in the East, which led them to interpret me as being a big windbag?

I know France and I were pretty closely allied until England resigned, and Germany has talked about her take on your e-mails, but I don't know why England didn't take you up on the offer.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

In 1906 I wrote a note to myself to remind me to ask if you had leaked our chat logs from that year to Germany. This was around mid-January.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

Part II

In the South, my general plan had been to ally with Turkey until Italy was reduced to four or five centers and then offer to save him from the Juggernaut by offering him a place as a junior partner in a Russian-Italian alliance.

This was a strategy that I had used often in my high school, where the players are generally of lower caliber and don’t use TDT. Once I have reduced an enemy to the size when he can no-longer fight as an independent power, I offer him survival in return for the use of his units. In our group we call this “puppeting”. This offer is always accompanied by a promise not to eliminate him unless he stabs me, unless I need his center to win. Using this strategy I have, as Austria, fielded a navy out of St Petersburg. I have a perfect record for survival of loyal puppets.

So when I approached Italy, who I had been on good terms with before the stab and to whom I had sent an e-mail after the stab acknowledging my betrayal, I expected to explain to him that I was still open to allying with him in the future. I didn’t expect him to throw himself into his arms, but at least to establish a dialogue again. At the very worst I hoped that by making overtures to Italy I could pressure Turkey into giving me more control in the alliance.

I was mistaken. Italy had no interest in allying with me unless I burned all of my bridges with Turkey, and then would only consider my alliance. I decided that it wouldn’t even be possible to pretend to have an Italian option against Turkey and dropped the idea entirely.

The only option that remained in the South was to loyally support Turkey forward while making sure that I had a strong enough frontier that he couldn’t stab me. Hugh would occasionally make a reference to how he was considering betraying me but didn’t, which I mostly assumed to be him trying to extort concessions from me. We made lip service to demilitarizing the Black Sea and talked about a two-way draw in passing, but I was always doubtful that we would be able to pull it off.

In the North I was worried by England’s deployment to the Norwegian Sea in Fall 1903. Because of this I supported my move from Sweden to Norway in Spring 1905, so that if Denmark tapped me I could still prevent the British from taking Norway.

As I was still ostensibly at peace with Britain, I apologized for the incursion and promised to move out. However, now having a stronger position in the South and with the British stabbing the Germans yet again, I now had enough independent strength that I felt comfortable challenging Britain. I conspired with France to move out to the North Sea, which would make a French attack on Belgium more likely to succeed.

To my surprise, and slight disappointment, I got into the North Sea and as a result didn’t get a build from Norway.

The important work of breaking into the British position had been accomplished, though, and with France’s shiny new fleet and the Germans eager to avenge Denmark and Holland we were able to make pretty quick work of the British supply centers in 1905.

As England quickly fell, however, it became difficult to maintain the Russian-German-French alliance. I suggested that the Germans be given the North Sea and an English supply center, partly to keep them from attacking me and partly as a shield from France’s burgeoning strength. This was rendered a moot point though by the Grand Alliance of 1906.

The strength of the Grand Alliance wasn’t in its operational security. I repeatedly pressed Alex Mennen to discuss his future plans with me, but he coyly avoided the topic and talked about “mopping up the rest of Britain.” Furthermore, I began hearing less details about Hugh’s press to the West, which worried me. When I offered Germany help against France she responded strangely, pointing out for the first time that it would be difficult for her to help me against either France or Italy. Then Hugh sent me an e-mail with the plans he had proposed to the Western players. While I was impressed with the speed with which the alliance formed and the cleverness of the moves (they would have utterly crippled me if I had not tapped Denmark) the element of surprise was not on their side.

What the Grand Alliance did accomplish was the destruction of my hopes of keeping the board divided long enough to pull out a win. If I had been able to stay allied with Germany longer I would have been able to pick up Edinburgh and possibly Liverpool before I activated the Polish front, placing me in an excellent position to solo. Unfortunately, German hostility forced me to rush armies into Poland and cede England to France.

The last touch that finally made the three-way draw inevitable was a phone call that I made to France urging him not to do a two-way draw with Turkey. I pointed out how difficult it would be to precisely balance the fall of my centers so that each player ended up with 17.

From there on, it was merely the formality of completely eliminating Germany and Italy.

I'd like to thank Randaly for being the gamemaster and patiently adjudicating all of the moves.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

I play Diplomacy in the same circles that Alex does, and I agree with his analysis. It never ceased to amaze me how long the Turkish-Austrian and British-German alliances lasted in Game 1.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

You were placed in a hard situation by France's builds, not just by your commitment to attack France. I thought it was similar to how Turkey and Italy's fleet builds in the East made fighting me difficult. There was no way you and France could ally against Britain, so he could pick and choose who to ally with.

I was worried early game that you and Britain would kick me out of the North while I was preoccupied in the South, and then gobble up France, but that never materialized as Britain played around in Denmark and Holland.

I have to agree with Hugh's analysis that war was inevitable, given my strength in Scandinavia, but I had hopes that I could delay attacking you as long as possible. Part of this was so that I could grab Edinburgh, but it was also because I try not to eliminate players as a general principle. It makes it harder to form grand alliances if there are more factions remaining on the board.

Once it became obvious that I couldn't solo, though, and the Grand Alliance formed, it became a race with France for your centers.

I have to say that I enjoyed talking to you the most, along with Italy (before I stabbed him). I was slightly relieved when you stabbed me because it meant that I wouldn't have to go through the drama of me stabbing another ally.

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

Part I

The first half of this post will cover up until Winter 1903, focusing on the East. I will have the rest up by tomorrow night.

As Alex Mennen has noted, he and I know each other in real life. The major effect that this had on the game was the exchange of information early game and my late-game switch to mainly telephone based communication to reduce the credibility of French leaks. We have played Diplomacy against each other among our high school friends, so we both had a good estimate of each others’ strengths and weaknesses. We had no meta-game commitment.

The opening impressions I got of each country greatly influenced my decision to open North. Turkey was pragmatic and polite, and was obviously very familiar with the normal sensitivities that surrounded the Black Sea. He immediately stuck out among the players as someone who had previous experience playing Diplomacy. He took the time to explain his points thoroughly, both before and after he knew that I had Diplomacy experience.

Austria’s first press was a single but beefy paragraph, proposing that we establish a DMZ in Galicia. I had not planned on this, instead expecting to arrange a bounce, so I made a counter-proposal that he accepted that we bounce in Galicia. I later changed my mind when I decided to go North and he agreed to a DMZ again.

My communications with Italy in Spring 1901 were politely stilted, although we hit it off in the Fall. I learned (importantly) that he was opening to Tyrolia, so I figured that Austria would be properly pre-occupied in the South and West and allow me free access to Rumania.

Germany was the most conversational in 1901, and made allusions to Richard Sharp’s “The Game of Diplomacy.” Her decision not to move to Denmark in the Spring earned her major kudos points from a grateful Russia, guaranteeing at least one build (or so I thought).

I initiated communication with Britain, proposing mutual non-aggression. He replied politely, but given what I had heard from France about his ambitions in Belgium, I was a bit worried that an unchecked leviathan would be descending on my in 1902. I decided that the move to St Petersburg would be the most bang for my buck because I anticipated that Italy and Turkey would keep Austria tied up.

Then, out of the blue, Austria moved to Galicia. This put me in a bind because I had to choose between supporting an attack on Rumania and defending Warsaw. I supported myself to Rumania. The gamble did not pay off.

My moves for the rest of 1901 and 1902 were mostly dictated the necessity of recovering Warsaw. This forced me to withdraw from the North and halt any action in the South. During this period Italy and I began cooperating closely.

It was here that our differing strategies became more apparent, with me wanting to offer Austria a position as a puppet/buffer state in the Russia-Italy alliance and Italy wanting to eliminate him and move on to Turkey. My gambit fell through, though, when WrongBot didn’t reply until late on the day of the update. Deciding that WrongBot was unreliable and wouldn’t be useful as an ally, I let Italy take Budapest.

I was also slightly disappointed with the proposed division of centers proposed by Italy. Italy had just picked up all of Austria and wanted to take the easy pickings of Serbia and Greece while promising me the unappetizing prospect of cracking into Turkey for my next build. This made me uneasy about our alliance because I was worried about a Parfit’s Hitchhiker scenario in which I never got my builds.

Despite my military weakness in the South, though, I was negotiating from a position of strength. With Italy and Turkey both maneuvering their fleets in the Mediterranean, their chances of both allying against me plummeted. I had continued to negotiate with Turkey, telling him (correctly) that I was worried about Italy’s size. Turkey responded favorably to my hints that I was interested in building a Juggernaut (R-T alliance).

Here is where I made two mistakes that severely complicated the rest of the game. The first was not articulating clearly enough with Turkey that I was not allying with him in the spring. I had made this decision to delay allying with Turkey until after Serbia fell because I felt his position was so superior to mine that if I allied with him I would be a junior partner. The omission of this fact was a mistake that only made Turkey mad and did nothing else. It was not a ploy to open him up to attack; I did not expect Italy to take Greece.

The second mistake occurred shortly after the spring turn was resolved showing Italy with two extra supply centers. This sudden, unexpected gain by Italy did not fit with the slow, even advance that I had been hoping for against Turkey. I decided that Italy was too big and needed to be stopped. However, I chose to wait for Turkey to contact me that season instead of contacting him early. By the time I was able to convince Turkey that I wasn’t going to stab him again, he had already sent out an e-mail to the West decrying me as untrustworthy.

Amusingly, I heard about this e-mail from multiple sources in the West before I heard from Hugh, tipping me off that I had made a major misstep and needed to mend my fences. As far as I can tell, his e-mails had little effect in the West until 1906, three years later when Britain was dying and I had actually become the dominant player in the North. The only person who I didn’t hear from concerning his e-mail from Turkey was Britain. This was definitely a factor in my final decision to cooperate in his downfall.

In the West I was wary of England’s power in Norway, but without an ally I had no way of stopping him, so I maintained my “good fences, good neighbors” policy of keeping a militarized frontier. Contrary to a rumor I heard, I did not ask Britain to take Denmark. I actually preferred a German Denmark as it made any operation to take Sweden more complicated for my enemies.

That's the game up until and including my stab of Italy. My next post will cover Italy vs the Juggernaut, the fall of Britain, and the three-way draw.

Part II coming soon.

Spring 1912: A New Heaven And A New Earth

They don't have the units in place, but they can put them in place rather quickly. South of the Alps they can order:

F Ionian Sea S F Tunis H; F Tyrrhenian Sea H; F Tuscany S F Tyrrhenian Sea H; A Rome-Venice (which will then support A Piedmont); A Piedmont H;

They could stalemate North of the Alps fairly easily. It is impossible to hold St Petersburg. Munich and Berlin may be defensible, if the Eastern Powers guess correctly, but if they can at least hold Berlin they can form a stalemate similar to John Beshera's Position II north of the Alps. A Munich retreats to Bohemia and Warsaw moves up to Prussia, and St Petersburg holds out long enough to move A Budapest up to Warsaw to support A Livonia H.

To get the units in position:

A Tyrolia S A Munich H; A Munich H (retreat to Bohemia if dislodged); A Berlin H; A Silesia S A Berlin H; A Warsaw-Prussia; A Livonia S A Warsaw-Prussia; A Moscow S A St Petersburg; A Budapest-Galicia, followed by A Budapest-Warsaw;

After the units are in position:

A War & Mos S A Livonia H; A Pru & Sil S Berlin H

Would tie up the line

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game 2, Game Over

I retreat to A Denmark to Sweden.

Summer 1907

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