Hi all,
Once again, I find myself swamped with business obligations at a key time of this game. I am writing tis EOG from LA, across the country from my home. The last time I tried to Dip from here, I lost half my centers and a main ally. Hoepfully I won't mess this EOG up as much. :-)

First off: Congrats to Glenn and Karlis. They worked the GT alliance better than any team I've seen in my years of playing. Their diplomacy tactics were top-notch, sharing just enough information about allies and enemies to keep you interested and talking, but holding back certain vital pieces... namely that they were working together.

In preparing this EOG, I reviewed all the press and moves. 20/20 hindsight says I should have seen that alliance and moved against Germany well before the Stab. Italy had called the GAT and then the GT at least 2 years before the Austrian stab. I was just too focused on a GF to think otherwise. Next time I won't be so trusting of a working alliance.

From the start, England buried himself. Germany and I worked out a plan of attack in Spring 1901. First Glenn suggested an opening, then I did some research (a first for me!) and found a comparable opening sequence that depended on a friendly Italy and Russia. Since Italy and I had worked out a DMZ and the Count sounded reliable, all I had to do was convince the Russian that Germany was heading away from him. This was accomplished before the Fall moves, so Germany was swayed to follow my opening.

The two disadvantages to a GF alliance are: (1) growth opportunities lie in the same direction; and (2) the immense power scares all other countries immediately. We decided to make moves that followed the specified opening, but throw in some "curves" to make it seem we weren't fully allied. We also decided that after England was washed up, I would head into the Med and Glenn would take on Russia. At that point, I wasn't sure if I would attack Italy, or swing around him and take on Turkey and Austria.

In Fall 1901, Germany was going to offer England support of Nth->Bel, and then renege. England tried to move to Norway instead, leaving his army in Yorkshire. I'm not sure if Germany really offered the support, or if he purposely did not, hoping ot slow my progress down. This may have been the first sign of treachery, but I still doubt if that was the intention.

Once 1902 rolled around, England was in dire straits. Glenn suggested we continue against England, but with a smaller force. He then, to my horror, suggested that I let England move to ECH. Maybe I was under work pressure, or I just wasn't concentrating enough, but I saw no logic behind that move. To me, it looked like Germany was setting me up for a grand stab with England's help. The lack of communication from England was also distressing. I was almost convinced that EG was coming after me.

Turkey was feeding me info about Glenn and I think that saved GF more than anything. We also discussed Italy over and over. Since England was finished, Italy was my obvious next target. However, the recent move suggestions by germany were making me wary of a stab. So I thought Italy would be a perfect buffer. If Germany attacked me, Italy could put pressure up North while I hit him from the West. With Turkey constantly moving closer, though, Italy couldn't afford to pull away from his centers. Thus, I kept putting pressure on Rimi to stab Austria. At times, I thought I had succeeded, but then the moves would come out and I soon realized that Rimi and I would never see eye-to-eye. I understood his position, but thought he was handing the game to Germany. I had no idea they were so actively talking.

The one good thing that came out of Turkey's attacks was Italy allowing me to build F Mar. In my eyes, this would soon lead to a stab of Italy. All I needed was for Turkey to back off a tiny bit.

In 1903, I finally made an all-out plea to Turkey to back off and hit Austria. He agreed that constant battling in Italy was futile. (This really turned out to be the case until I stabbed Italy. I'd love to go back and replay this game from that point, but have Rimi stab Austria. I have a feeling that either FT would win, or we'd face off against each other in the endgame). England made a plea for mercy, which I immediately relayed to Germany. Germany and I firmed up our alliance, at least in words.

The Fall moves brought an end to relations with T, for the time being. He obviously wasn't backing off of Italy and I saw the beginnings of the GAT coming through. Italy was pushing me to stab G, and showed great foresight by continuing to call GAT. I was too swept up with FG, and my potential stab of Italy, to take him seriously. Tunnel Vision will kill you every time.

As for FG, we began to break down. Word came back to me that Glenn was fearing FI was stringer than FG. Why he felt this, I don't know because I had kept him well-informed about the planned Italian stab. Glenn tried to mend that fence by saying he "trusts me more now than ever". Then he supported Austria into Tyrolia, adding another foreign unit to the Italian arena.

This will wrap up soon (hey, I've had weeks to write this... of course it's long :-)).

Once Austria entered the Italian fray, with German support, I knew GAT was too strong, and that FG was done for. Glenn admitted that GAT was very well organized. Glenn suggested that FG was still strong, and that he'd keep up GAT. How he planned that.... well, I could read the writing on the wall. Not a whole lot that I could do at this point, so I continued with the support for Italy against Austria and Turkey, hoping that Austria would back off.
And that's when the shoe dropped and Germany moved into Belgium. An army in Bel totally violated our agreements. Combined with Austria advancing to Pie, I knew I couldn't focus much on Italy. I needed to protect my home first. But, I also needed a build possibly. Turkey and I worked out a split of the Italian centers, but I wasn't going to honor it. I was hoping that Italy would stay alive, but he disbanded Tus instead of Tun. There was now no way to knock the Austrian out of Pie.

I guess that's about it. From that point on (1906 -> end), I found myself running in circles and grabbing any centers to keep myself alive. I tried very hard to break up GT, but to no avail. When Austria was stabbed, it was logical for him to focus on Italy. Fighting both T and G was impossible, so, once I realized that their alliance was unbreakable, I brought the game to a quick end. Why fight a totally losing battle, especially when neither opponent wants to win?

Great game by all. Congrats to Glenn and Karlis. I hope to run into one of you in a "carebear" game sometime :-)

Michael Hoffman

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