First Game on Backstabbr

I recently started my first game on Backstabbr. I’ve thought about playing here before but haven’t – frankly, I prefer Playdip or webDip because of the community of the forums on those sites. Oh, well.

So I started a game with deadlines I can handle. I think I set them as being 3 days, with 1 day for Retreats and Adjustments. No communication in these phases (I like that there is that option). I mistakenly chose no resolutions at weekends (don’t know how I missed that).

And then I drew Austria. Austria and I aren’t best matched, I feel, but at least it’s a good power to get your teeth into.

One thing I’m surprised about on the websites is that there isn’t an option that automatically assigns standard deadline lengths. So, if you select a one-day deadline for Negotiations (what? why? too short!) then Retreats and Adjustments are automatically set at 8 hours.

Backstabbr comes closest to this, allowing players to set Retreats and Builds at one-third of the Negotiation deadline. What’s missing, though, is the “Live Game” feature that Playdip has: a game which automatically assigns 30 mins for the first Negotiation turn, 15 mins for later turns, and 5 mins for Retreats and Adjustments. And what’s missing on Playdip is that negotiation is always allowed in Retreats and Adjustments (with justifiable reasons).

Anyway, back to the game. I’m going to write a commentary on the game. As I haven’t mentioned The Diplomaticon in the game, there’s not much chance of the blog being found!

When playing any power, the key in 1901 is writing to everyone else. When playing Austria, even England. Frankly, not much from most of the players came back.

What I found out was that France wasn’t happy with Germany. Germany had started out by telling France that they had to persuade them not to attack France. This is pretty much an error, to my mind. You don’t want to start a game with a threat and, although Germany’s threat was very much on the understated, it was clearly there to see.

Later, from France, it sounded like England had also been put off by Germany’s approach to the game. I didn’t get much from England at all… but then they’re England and I’m Austria: what do you expect?

Germany did respond to me. I’d asked if they were prepared to order A Mun-Tyl in Spring 1901, adding if it wasn’t doing anything else. I received a little confusing response, which I think was meant to say “No” in a non-aggressive way. No denying it, though: Germany’s English was confusing. I think they’re not a native English speaker: although the words were accurate, the meaning wasn’t clear.

Russia responded a few times, which is still a little disappointing given that they and I are immediate neighbours. Russia also commented that they felt Germany had upset people but that they were not going to attack Germany because it was a good buffer between E/F and Russia. I also know, from what Germany told me, that Russia was getting Sweden.

Russia asked for a bounce in Galicia: I agreed. I think that, unless something desperate is looming, A Vie-Gal is always a solid move in S01. If A War-Gal succeeds, that’s something to worry about. It could well be that it’s to make sure of Rumania, which is always important for Russia (even if Germany has promised Sweden), but simply because Galicia neighbours Vienna and Budapest, it’s a lot safer to prevent this happening.

Let’s face it: Austria needs to expand in 1901. If you try to cover Tyrolia, Galicia and Trieste all in S01, you’re going to be on your way out anyway. Something needs to be risked: Galicia feels the most threatening risk.

Turkey responded a few times. They were offering an alliance against Italy, with the openly expressed view of getting out of their corner into the Med. They wanted Greece because of this. That was a shame because, well, Greece is mine!!! However, given that Turkey was stressing the importance of getting their fleets into the Med, it gave me the option of stating that I wouldn’t accept an army in Greece: after all, for Turkey, Greece is the SC to launch into the Med, but with a fleet.

Turkey offered me Rumania (in return for Greece), which presented my first dilemma: I’d told Russia they could have it. Why not? If Austria attempts to prevent Russia getting Rumania, it causes more friction than is necessary and is probably doomed to fail. Nothing better to force a Juggernaut.

Italy, however, proved to be a heavy negotiator, and this always encourages me to seek an alliance. This is what matches my style and, frankly, Russia and Turkey being quiet is disquieting.

This is probably a weakness for me. I don’t think Diplomacy without time for proper diplomacy is Diplomacy at all. One of the reasons I don’t like the apps is that all three of the Dip apps – Diplicity, Conspiracy and the comparatively new app Primacy – offer one day as the longest deadline. I mean, how much correspondence can you carry out in that time?

Sometimes, then, I choose a better communicator over another player – simply because they’re more communicative – and come to regret that choice. But, if I feel like finding someone similar to me in their approach to Dip is going to encourage a stronger alliance, then other people are going to feel the same.

Italy, then, was by far the most encouraging ally. We were communicating; we had the chance to discuss things other than Dip, and it got to the point where Italy asked about the Key Lepanto.

For me, the Key Lepanto, when playing Austria, is always very risky. Honestly, Andrew Goffs Modern Borders opening is better if you’re going to let Italy into Trieste – at least you know what’s going to happen. With the Key Lepanto you’re always worrying about the Italian staying in Trieste, working with Turkey to prevent you taking Greece, and being stuck on a three SCs… or worse.

I made it clear that I didn’t want A Rom-Ven to follow A Ven-Tri, therefore. This isn’t because the Key Lepanto doesn’t feature A Rom-Ven but because I wanted to make sure I was agreeing to the opening as much on my terms as possible.

In fact, I wanted to try something different to the Key. To explain this, here’re the usual moves to this opening:

  • Spring 1901
  • Italy: A Ven-Tri, A Rom-Apu/Nap, F Nap-ION
  • Austria: F Tri-Alb, A Bud-Ser, A Rom-Gal
  • Fall 1901
  • Italy: A Tri-Ser, A Apu/Nap-Tun, F ION C Apu/Nap-Tun
  • Austria: A Ser-Gre, F Alb S Ser-Gre, A Vie-Tri

What I wanted is something I haven’t seen before, but something which is much more strategically strong for the Adriatic alliance as a whole, but much better for Austria. What I wanted to do in F01 was:

  • A Vie-Tri (assuming Vie-Gal bounced with War-Gal)
  • A Ser-Alb
  • F Tri-Gre with support from Italy’s fleet in the Ionian.

If I could get a fleet in Greece, with Italy in the Ionian, this would give us a good chance to attack Turkey. It would mean Italy was giving up on Tunis straight away (but then the classic Key orders have F ION-AEG/EMS anyway). Two fleets bordering the Aegean Sea is much better than one… and it would mean my fleet didn’t stay sat in Albania with nothing to do.

As I’m writing this post, then, Italy and I are negotiating this Key Lepanto. I’m not being aggressive about it – if I get a strong, successful alliance out of it, that will suit me. If the threat comes from the west, as I think it might, then Italy will face that before I do.

My predictions for the first resolution are:

  • An Entente Cordiale alliance between England and France, with France forcing their way into Burgundy and England moving F Lon-ENG.
  • Germany moving F Kie-Hol, A Ber-Kie and A Mun-Ruh.
  • Russia ordering A War-Gal to bounce with me (as we agreed) F Sev-Rum, A Mos-Ukr.
  • Turkey moving F Ank-Con, A Smy-Ank.
  • Italy moving F Nap-ION, A Ven-Tri, A Rom-Ven.
  • I believe a Juggernaut may rear it’s head but we’re not going to see that in 1901.
  • A Russo-Turkish bounce in the Black Sea isn’t immediately off the cards but Turkey is wanting Greece so they may want to get her fleet out early.

For me, what I want to do, is put some last minute doubt into Russia’s mind by mentioning A Smy-Arm as subtly as possible. I don’t want a Juggernaut forming.

Published by Mal Arky

I'm a Diplomacy nut... if you haven't guessed. I write about the game Diplomacy, mainly as played online on websites, such as Playdiplomacy, webDiplomacy and Backstabbr. I write books on Diplomacy, too. First one to be published soon!

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