Posted By Ehsan Honary on 06 Jul 2008 2:39 AM
Pxer, Thanks for your comments. You are quite right. Playing with people you already know is far more challenging since there is a strong history between you and many parameters may influence the game as it progresses.
My experience is also similar. When playing with people I know, I have to make sure I don't try too hard to win. It can easily backfire since everyone immediately becomes hostile, consciously or unconsciously, and of course if everyone is against you, then you have got no chance.
In extreme cases, when you already know you are a target (say because you won the last three games) you may need to start from isolated locations to minimise the required initial diplomacy. All of this is really psychological and as you know well, your success highly depends on how you manage other players psychologically.
The problem is the level of neutrality. Not being able to talk too much may rub you from a great tool you usually used in games, so it means you may have to focus more on brute force with it's associated random consequences. This is probably why many people insist on starting from Australia so then they can have a peaceful starting game. This may be the solution, but as we know Australia can also be very limiting. Similar situation applies to other type of maps. What do you think?
In any case, the topic certainly deserves more consideration and would be nice to explore it more based on the type and the history of players you are going to lay against.
My friends and I played a 5-player game last night and I decided to try a different strategy with Europe as my focus while maintaining a presence in the well-divided Africa, but steering clear of North Africa as one player took SA early. The results were greater than I hoped. After cashing in my cards initially, I fortified eastern Africa and simply discouraged others from attacking me, which kept them from ganging up on me as they mostly had their own problems to deal with.
With three players in Africa, I was able to eventually power my way through Europe unexpectedly without having to worry about pressure from the NA continent as it was not much of a battleground yet. I successfully held Europe while trying to draw attention to the warring players in Africa and managed to win the game quite handedly, facing the weak Australian-based player in the end. I really tried to flex my muscles by bulking up my armies on crucial fronts and it seems like this strategy worked.
Sometimes I slyly hide away to discourage attack upon my armies, but it seems as though bulking up my armies can have the same effect depending on the starting location. It's tough sometimes to not try for Africa, Australia, or SA to gain an early advantage but perserverence definitely paid off as I lost very few armies while the battles raged around me. I also tried to focus my psychological power on getting other players to talk with each other, especially the ones warring in Africa as I felt they got annoyed at each other early and I could get them even more frustrated by talking about their inability to dominate that continent. By deflecting much of my speech and then sitting back and listening to them bicker was a definite advantage that helped me take Europe with ease.
I did have a little luck as there was no threat in NA to northern Europe, because if there was, things would have been a little difficult holding off the three major European fronts as Australia had expanded into Asia, but I plan to apply a similar strategy soon online.