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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2011-11-04 05:57:03
DICE has made one hell of a shooter. Much more so than the Bad Company offshoots, Battlefield 3 brings the franchise to the console based mainstream, much like the first Modern Warfare did for the Call of Duty brand. So it's that much more frustrating that it's so good when it suddenly stops putting out and throws you out the door.
Electronic Arts' defense consists of the observation that every prominent online shooter suffers the same networking issues at launch. However, these expected "hiccups" are exponentially exacerbated by EA's insistence on running their own Xbox Live servers. (They also managed to botch PC connectivity with a whole ream of OTHER unrelated issues.) Just Google "EA online problems" and you'll get a slew of results ranging throughout their ENTIRE online catalog. My Army of Two buddy couldn't even log on for simple peer to peer co-op; with millions of gamers flocking to BF3, the only hope is that greed will induce EA to throw gobs of money at the problem, sufficient to overwhelm their ineptitude.
Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2011-11-04 16:31:13
Diplomacy VI - Resolution
With only England and Spain remaining as viable contenders, they faced a future of hurling their armed forces at each other without any third party means of diplomatic resolution. In lieu of a interminable edge flanking war, they elected to cede their fate to the Coin of Destiny. England called heads and was rebuffed. Spain is the winner of Diplomacy Round Six.
England obviously had a solid game, drawing to within a coin flip of becoming the first non-Kang/Dee victor. His opening was dictated by the French political agenda: a refusal to engage in hostilities with Germany, and an aggressive stance toward Spain. Steve G. was forced to assume that once Spain was eliminated, the Western Triangle (England, France, Germany) would have to be resolved, with him on the receiving end of a double team (The opening German fleets are a direct threat to English security). So he threw in with Spain against France, and they slowly split the world between them. England did have some setbacks along the way, but was able to relentless pursue a course that earned him mastery of the northern hemisphere of the playing field.
Egypt began with a stunning ploy. Faking a war with Turkey, the two conspired to land an Egyptian army on the Italian peninsula. While successful, this also exposed Steve W. to Turkish treachery. He never truly recovered from this stabbing, and spent the rest of the game in a defensive struggle for survival.
France dictated much of the game. Paul elected to employ his political weight to impede the natural resolution of the Western Triangle, instead pursuing a campaign of Spanish destruction. This freed Germany to pursue an unnatural campaign eastward, and engendered distrust and paranoia from England. As part of his policy of German appeasement, he further earned Italian enmity over strategically inconsequential skirmishes. Even if England had not stood against him, his slow push against Spain already cost him a monumental amount of tempo in relation to his competitors, Germany in particular.
Germany began with a French gift: complete non-aggression from both France and England. This freed Mike to attack a defenseless Poland (the two would normally have been tight back-to-back interior allies as a response to being surrounded by hostile forces). This was the beginning of a coincidentally Hitlerian campaign. After growing to become the first dominant power by consuming Eastern Europe, Mike made a peace accord with the Eastern power of Ukraine. This was the critical period for Germany, but Mike fumbled it. Instead of decisively maintaining offensive momentum in a carefully deliberated direction (I'm stunned he allowed Poland to remain in the game), he attempted to *defend* all his borders, thus splitting his forces along several weakened salients. As Ukraine grew to challenge his dominance, Germany stabbed eastward, opening another front. This, in itself, was not a bad decision, but its execution lacked any meaningful follow through (again, the scattered German deployment did not allow for concentrated power). Naturally, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive, and the friendless and unfocused German war machine was steadily dismantled.
Italy seemingly maintained an isolationist policy for much of the game. Of course, Kodi responded to aggressors and defended her territory, but did little visible to the external observer in the way of seizing initiative, negotiating alliances, and dictating the direction of the game. Her reluctance to form political pacts (and thus, forming enemies) and even hesitance to join sides once they were drawn, afforded her scant opportunity for meaningful growth. Once Spain exerted Mediterranean control, her game was done.
Poland was dealt a tough hand. Vargas began well, allying with Ukraine to eliminate Russia, but French policy freed Germany to molest his backside. Caught between two enemies, he somehow managed to survive. Poland's first chance to gain prominence came with Germany's fall, but he botched the opportunity with incoherent strategic aims and baffling tactical blunders. Once he joined the coalition arrayed to contain Ukraine, he found himself once again pressed for survival. Again, he succeeded, and promptly completed the second cycle of aimless opportunity squandering. Vargas played quite well when faced with limited hard choices, but never capitalized on greyer, more complex opportunities to become a genuine contender.
Russia began the game facing a double team. Poland and Ukraine were relentlessly determined to destroy him, but Charles mounted turn after turn of inspired defense. Even more impressive, any reasonable interpretation of the other powers' actions revealed his thumbprints ALL OVER Germany and France, as well as other powers to a lesser degree. While never afforded the opportunity to make a run at this game, the level of Russian diplomatic puppeteering was a testament to his quality of play. That such a crippled power could exert so much influence is astonishing.
Spain began by bracing for the French assault, opening himself up to an English offensive. Once England declared his intentions, the two calmly proceeded to split the world. Kang's strategy consisted of methodically but inexorably insinuating himself into the Mediterranean; every turn was a carefully orchestrated exhibition of steady momentum. By the endgame, this naval command allowed him to rapidly deploy even freshly conscripted troops ANYWHERE and IMMEDIATELY in the southern hemisphere via preposterous convoy daisychained amphibious landings. If the players had not submitted to the Coin of Destiny, I think Spain would have eventually won the game anyway. This rapid deployment would have allowed him to flood the remnants of the fallen Ukrainian empire faster than England could sail, march, or fly to counter.
Turkey nodded and smiled at Egypt in preparation to stab him, as Ukraine nodded and smiled at Turkey in preparation to stab HIM. Gorbash was unprepared for the Ukrainian treachery, even as he was busy treacherying Egypt. And then he was hospitalized, and the rest of Turkey's game consisted of playing the speed bump to Ukrainian ambition.
Ukraine played a strong game. Yino maneuvered to tackle only one enemy at a time, and always one of his choosing. This strategically sound play allowed him to eclipse Germany, becoming the second dominant power. However, at this critical point, he too declined to eliminate Poland, instead pushing westward for growth. This caused him to stretch his lines too far and too thinly, and the other powers BARELY rallied to contain him. If Yino had had just one more political break go his way, he could have won this game.
Congratz to Spain/Kang for winning Dire Diplomacy VI, and we'll be taking a break before the next game. If we use this modern map again, I'll definitely be lowering the supply center count for victory, which should engender more aggressive play and avoid the late game morass which led to the Coin of Destiny arbitration.