Italy/Austria in Gunboat

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Bark
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Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#1 Post by Bark » Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:30 pm

I'm relatively new to gunboat (24h), but the last two games have been dominated by Austria (Draw, but dominate) and Italy (Solo).

How common is this? In both games, the usual alliances never formed and these guys took advantage. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone.

peterwiggin
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#2 Post by peterwiggin » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:08 pm

This is pretty rare unless I'm Russia or turkey, in which case my poor play means Austria tends to do very well.
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Nikola Maric Eto
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#3 Post by Nikola Maric Eto » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:09 pm


ForGrandFenwick
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#4 Post by ForGrandFenwick » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:37 pm

I was England in the game where you were Russia and Italy took the solo. My strategy was originally anti French, whereas you and Germany seemingly formed an alliance against me, as I was pretty much screwed, I decided to die in a way which denied you Germany and France anything, allowing Italy to take all my centers. Anyway, that was my process during that game.

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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#5 Post by Bark » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:44 am

I understood your motivations completely. I had just played a previous gunboat game where Austria dominated with two other powers, ending in a three-way tie. In that game, Austria had the most centers. Each game individually is one thing but two back-to-back seemed odd.

BTW, you were quite correct in your assessment. I had tried to commit to being anti-Austrian, but Turkey never went along with it. Since Germany seemed agreeable, that's where I had to go.

I will say Italy played this game perfectly though, with both strategy and tactics. That always helps too.
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Carl Tuckerson
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#6 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 am

I would say that both Italy and Austria are much stronger than Turkey and Russia in gunboat. There is an argument for Turkey ahead of Austria, but Russia is definitely the worst country, and Italy is among the best, with Austria not far behind.
Italy in general is astonishingly undervalued by Diplomacy players.

Matticus13
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#7 Post by Matticus13 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:28 am

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 am
I would say that both Italy and Austria are much stronger than Turkey and Russia in gunboat. There is an argument for Turkey ahead of Austria, but Russia is definitely the worst country, and Italy is among the best, with Austria not far behind.
Italy in general is astonishingly undervalued by Diplomacy players.
Austria is often the first nation eliminated when I play. If not by Juggernaut, then by an early Italian stab.

In fairness, I play in gunboats with 100 :points: or fewer bet, per player. With a higher bet, this probably does not happen as often.

When Austria and Italy work together in the early game, they can can have great results. Italy especially, since France is usually busy pursuing English or German centers.

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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#8 Post by Claesar » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:47 am

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 am
I would say that both Italy and Austria are much stronger than Turkey and Russia in gunboat. There is an argument for Turkey ahead of Austria, but Russia is definitely the worst country, and Italy is among the best, with Austria not far behind.
Italy in general is astonishingly undervalued by Diplomacy players.
Yes, I still don't know what to do as Italy :-( My worst win-/draw-rate, even though I play mostly Gunboat.

Carl Tuckerson
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#9 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:59 am

I don't do anything too special with Italy, I open Piedmont and set up the Lepanto basically every time. I guess my "trick" is that I try to be very sensitive to slight shifts in board dynamics that will impact how one war resolves.
All three of Italy's neighbors are very vulnerable early in the game but virtually impossible to turn back once they get a foothold. You want to hold your powder and see how the rest of the board's opening plays begin to unfold, then either strike at a wide-open opportunity (typically when France is getting dogpiled by England and Germany) or enter a conflict on the side of the eventual victor (Austria vs Turkey) in such a way as to ensure you grow as fast as that victor (so that you can win the next war).
I don't mind depriving myself of the option of attacking Austria in 1901, so the convoy to Tunis feels pretty "free." You can always switch it back up on Austria in 1902 with a convoy to Albania and a move to Trieste, which I find catches a lot of Austrian players off-guard.
But by far the most important skill is reading a board and figuring out who has the upper hand in each theater and how much time you have to make a big play for someone's centers before your window closes.

I can't say enough good things about opening to Piedmont though. Occasionally England and Germany don't bite, and you get punished by a France that has nothing to do, but even the slightest disruption along France's border in 1901 causes him big headaches and creates openings for mistakes to be made. France's weakness (such as it has one) is that it loses tempo by grabbing its neutrals on the edge of the map in 1901; it's typically not fully deployed until 1903 and certainly very vulnerable until after Spring 1902. You have a small window to exploit this vulnerability before France can close it, and every single move that makes France have to think about covering centers is worth it. One mistaken cover in Marseilles instead of grabbing Spain delays France's full deployment for another whole year, which is another whole year for England or Germany to decide to cause France even more trouble.
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Carl Tuckerson
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#10 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:15 am

Matticus13 wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:28 am
Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 am
I would say that both Italy and Austria are much stronger than Turkey and Russia in gunboat. There is an argument for Turkey ahead of Austria, but Russia is definitely the worst country, and Italy is among the best, with Austria not far behind.
Italy in general is astonishingly undervalued by Diplomacy players.
Austria is often the first nation eliminated when I play. If not by Juggernaut, then by an early Italian stab.

In fairness, I play in gunboats with 100 :points: or fewer bet, per player. With a higher bet, this probably does not happen as often.

When Austria and Italy work together in the early game, they can can have great results. Italy especially, since France is usually busy pursuing English or German centers.
Yeah most of my games have been live and have had mixed results for Austria lol. But I've mostly felt that Italy made a mistake in the games where Austria died early. Occasionally Italy pulls off a successful conquest of Austria that he parlays into dominance over the Balkans and southern/eastern Europe, but more often I find that if Italy attacks Austria or even just fails to help Austria enough to keep him viable, Turkey grows too much for Italy to handle.
The balancing act is not easy, because once Austria gets done in the Balkans, you're often a tasty treat if you haven't developed your own power base.
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ItsHosuke
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#11 Post by ItsHosuke » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:24 am

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 am
I would say that both Italy and Austria are much stronger than Turkey and Russia in gunboat. There is an argument for Turkey ahead of Austria, but Russia is definitely the worst country, and Italy is among the best, with Austria not far behind.
Italy in general is astonishingly undervalued by Diplomacy players.
As someone who has pretty good results in gunboat (and surprisingly has my only solo as Austria) I agree that Russia is terrible at gunboat, but Turkey is one of the best except when in super high level games. While Italy and Austria are either in mid table or only slightly better than Russia depending on the player

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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#12 Post by mhsmith0 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:59 pm

Claesar wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:47 am
Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 am
I would say that both Italy and Austria are much stronger than Turkey and Russia in gunboat. There is an argument for Turkey ahead of Austria, but Russia is definitely the worst country, and Italy is among the best, with Austria not far behind.
Italy in general is astonishingly undervalued by Diplomacy players.
Yes, I still don't know what to do as Italy :-( My worst win-/draw-rate, even though I play mostly Gunboat.
fwiw Italy has been probably my most successful power of the 7 combining both gunboat and "standard", certainly compared to normal expectations
France, on the other hand... :banned:

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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#13 Post by swordsman3003 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:22 pm

In my opinion, these are the tiers for gunboat Diplomacy:

(A) Tier: No neighbor-ally is required to succeed, just discord among neighbors. Strong on offense and on defense.

France (can simultaneously fight against England and Germany if they don’t cooperate; metagame disfavors early Italian attack in France)

Turkey (can simultaneously fight Russia, Austria and Italy if they don’t coordinate their moves; metagame strongly favors war between Russia and Austria)

(B) Tier: Choose your allies and enemies wisely. Experienced players will avoid pitfalls and play these powers to their full potential.

Germany (experienced players understand how to recruit an ally out of England, Russia, or France; difficult to win if no ally is acquired)

Italy (experienced players choose carefully between attacking Austria, France or Turkey; easy to get yourself destroyed if you choose a target foolishly)

(C) Tier: Pray for mercy. The gunboat metagame encourages neighbors to attack you early and often, and it is difficult to put up a spirited defense.

England (metagame favors early attacks by Russia and France; difficult to coordinate with Germany, sometimes France and Germany decide to fight their war in Great Britain; no stalemate line runs through Great Britain)

Austria (metagame favors early, relentless attacks from Turkey and Russia; typically indefensible if Italy attacks early; a near-dead Austria is rarely needed to form a stalemate line)

Russia (metagame favors early attacks from England, Germany and Austria; difficult to get a foothold in the North without press; home centers are not easy to defend and are desired by all neighbors)

Shameless plug for my blog: 5 Reasons I Love to Play as Italy in Gunboat Diplomacy
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Carl Tuckerson
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#14 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:27 pm

This is my rating which is part personal preference and part results.

1. France--If you can weather the storm through 1902 you're basically a lock to make the draw. Oh and half the time there is no storm.
2. Italy--You are virtually invincible in the early game and you "border" three countries which all have to gamble on you not attacking them if they're going to have a good game. I think this power is easy to misuse because you need to hold your powder and you need to be very strong at predicting the outcomes of conflicts years in advance before you shoot your shot, but if you can do that Italy is one of the best countries in gunboat.
3. Austria--Basically see France, except there is almost always a storm brewing somewhere on your border. Your fate is in Italy's hands, but Italy should not often try to take you out early.
4. Germany--I find Germany to have a bit of an awkward game, because you need to breach Burgundy early in the game if you want any chance of beating France, but it can also be very hard to turn England back once England gets a foothold somewhere. Additionally, I find that many German players seem to make far too many enemies in the early game and will overextend reasonable positions into untenable ones. Add in that you are always vulnerable in Munich, and I'm just not as high on this power as the others. But its central position is a boon when things are going well!
5-6. England/Turkey--I'm not sure which one I would rate higher but I'm not thrilled to get either country. I think this might just be player preference, because in the abstract these countries are fine, but I routinely see alliance pairs that are bad news for these guys (seems like Germany lets Russia have Sweden a lot, and Austria and Italy ally a lot). That your fate can be so tied to others' decisions says a lot though... I think I prefer England because Turkey is so limited in its early options, but England's vulnerability to France is such a huge issue that that alone might outweigh Turkey's limitations.
7. Russia--Poor Russia. Russia just has so much difficulty expanding into stable areas. All of its reasonable prospects for expansion are indefensible from dedicated attack, which means that Russia is banking on goodwill or outright steamrolling the board. You can't really create the kind of goodwill you need in gunboat, and it's rare for Russia to steamroll, which means a lot of Russian positions just get overwhelmed even later into the game.
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Carl Tuckerson
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#15 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:29 pm

Lol preempted, and by such an accomplished player. Guess I will leave mine to be picked apart :razz:

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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#16 Post by mhsmith0 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:02 pm

I'd say Turkey is debatably the #1 power in gunboat where the meta doesn't encourage A/I alliance because it's ridiculously hard to kill Turkey once he gets 5 centers and ION access... but where A/I ally, it's pretty brutal on Turkey and he's mainly waiting to see if a western power can muscle in on A/I or be an outright solo threat, because otherwise a competent A/I can eventually wear down Turkey (particularly if Russia falters in the north which is likely given enough time)
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Carl Tuckerson
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#17 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:22 pm

You both brought up metagame which is a great point I hadn't considered. In a situation where Austria and Italy don't team up so often, Turkey is much, much better and would rise greatly in my rankings.

Maybe it would make the most sense to try to remove metagame considerations and rate on "pure" power level? Then make metagame notes as the situation warrants.

mhsmith0
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Re: Italy/Austria in Gunboat

#18 Post by mhsmith0 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:19 pm

The problem, I think, is that every single power is substantially impacted by the metagame, maybe even more so in gunboat compared to press because of how it's impossible to communicate and therefore unspoken "norms" can dominate so much.

Austria is a poor gunboat power in almost any world just because he has so many threats from essentially every direction, and even if he lives for a while he can get knocked out in relatively short order by any of his three main neighbors. Without a couple of fleets he'll always be under threat from Italy (or whoever conquers italy I guess) but with fleets he won't be able to fight very well on land which is his bigger concern.

Russia is a poor gunboat power in almost any world just because he is potential enemies with virtually every power on the board, and so much of Russia's standard diplomacy power comes from the ability to impact things around the board and coordinate. If Russia can't message Italy and/or France to get help from them, or message Germany to negotiate over Sweden/Scandinavia, etc etc etc, it becomes really hard. A meta where Germany usually lets Russia into Sweden would help, but even there it's just so easy for Russia to collapse under assault from multiple theaters.

Overall I'd tend to say in terms of power rank...

1) France
A meta where everyone piles on France early (INCLUDING Italy) would be hard on France, but even there, you can potentially fight back for a bit and see whether everyone else's positions collapse. France is probably the power most equipped to handle aggressive (but uncoordinated) behavior by neighbors early on and not collapse. France is helped by a meta where Italy doesn't normally head west, but even ignoring that bit, is a very strong power. Which makes it even funnier that I almost always shit the bed as France but lolsmith

2) Turkey
Turkey is hurt by the site meta of A/I alliance play, but even so is a fairly decent power, or at least difficult to kill off. Austria can collapse at any time, Russia has lots of problems, and France is a potential western juggernaut that can put Italy on a timer to get rid of Turkey before big bad blue comes after him. Turkey is also probably the #1 power in a more beginner type board where Italy doesn't work closely with Austria, Austria makes paranoid moves against Italy, etc.
https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play ... _id=137234
was overall almost stupidly easy to solo as Turkey when Austria screwed around in 1901, Russia was friendly for long enough (plus he stabbed badly and predictably in 1902 giving me great "cause" to crush him at the same time England was rolling him up north), and the west never really resolved itself

3) Germany
Germany has a weak neighbor to the east (Russia), one to the south (Austria), and its northern/western neighbors (E/F) are kind of hardwired to fight each other most of the time. Probably the biggest issue Germany has is that England can potentially dominate it through sea, and if it builds fleet power, then France can potentially dominate it through land. Basically, whichever of E/F conquers the other is a massive pain for Germany to conquer or even hold off. That said, the E/F war is reasonably likely to create some opportunities for Germany to strike at a key moment against one and then the other. It's a hard power to master, but just like Italy, no one really is coming after Germany right off the bat, which does give it some flexibility to read the board and choose good allies.

4) Italy
Lots and lots of options to play, no real fundamental enemies early, etc. This ranks lower in the hands of a poor player, and lower when Austria goes anti-Italy early instead of fighting for Greece. In the hands of a strong player, and/or on a site meta where A/I is normal early, this underrates Italy.

5) England
Not nearly as hard to kill as Turkey, but also not fundamentally hampered by the obvious potential for two of its neighbors to ally for the sake of necessity. England's fate is heavily influenced by the opening turn, in particular the hostility level (or lack thereof) from France and Russia. A French navy in ENG and a Russian army in STP leads to a pretty short game for England, but favorable openings by neighboring powers can lead to good opportunities. If England can ever break into MAO early in the game, he'll have a really strong tactical position... but getting there is usually pretty hard to pull off.

6) Austria
A meta where Italy attacks Austria early makes Austria #7, but Italy has a fairly hard-wired incentive not to do that since it just hands power to R/T (mainly T).

7) Russia
If Turkey is doing well, he'll eventually crush Russia. If Turkey is doing bad, then one of A/I will eventually crush Russia. If England or Germany is doing well, then they'll eventually build fleets and roll up Scandinavia. Other than that, gunboating as Russia is easy :P
This bumps to #6 and maybe even #5 in a meta where Austria always gets crushed early, since that creates opportunities for Russian growth, and picking a winner between the I/T fight can help as well... but it's still pretty rough overall. Probably the hardest power to play on a high level board, and there are a lot of landmines on a lower level board too.
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