Title : When picking the FTB is mandatory
This is a LadderGame against Jimmy, a high ranked ladder participant. In this post, I am going to share my thoughts when approaching typical ladder games like this.
First, it might be a good idea to identify unpickable places first. Let's have a look at the board.
In the present case, North-, Central- and South-America are completely blocked by wastelands and wont play a major role anymore.
Thus, one can expect that the game will be concentrated in Europe, Asia and Africa. When such a huge area like the Americas is ruled out, one can also be sure to have immediate enemy contact and that there is no room for slow expansion in big bonuses like China. This makes the first turn bonus (FTB) in Antarctica even more attractive. Actually it would be very dangerous to ignore this FTB.
Thus, it is clear that two picks must be spent in SouthPole and Tasmania. Next, as you expect yourself or the enemy in Antarctica , Africa isn't the safest spot anymore. Also, going for the FTB requires fast income alternatives as the chances of finally getting the FTB are low. Here, a fast income alternative could be the double pick in Scandinavia. Suppose you get only one pick of the FTB, you could already threaten you enemy in turn 2 and simulataneously secure an easy income in Scandinavia.
Moreover, you have some nice options in the ongoing game: Safe expansion in Greenland, easy and fast access to Russia and finally Asia... so it could be worth a try. The only problem might be Europe though as it could counter Scandinavia in 2 turns. However, this is quite uncommon.
The conclusion was clear:
Then enemy shall not get the FTB, the enemy shall not be left alone with a double pick in Scandinavia. Simply picking Scandinavia with your 3rd, 4th and 5th pick wouldn't do the trick though. You might easily end up in getting the double pick in Scandinavia yourself. What, the problem is? In that situation the counter possibility of Europe. Earlier I mentioned the Europe counter would be unlikely. It is expansive (you need to conquer 2 territories) and you basically abstain from a bonus yourself. But, with respect to this board distribution, where there are so few alternatives, this counter would pay off.
Placing the third pick in the left over area of South-Asia, in the middle and choosing your 4th, 5th and 6th pick in Scandinavia would make things much more secure for you. Of course it can still happen that the enemy does the same and you end up with a double pick in Scandinavia, but then you know to be careful about a possible Europe counter.
So, my picks were clear. Commit
And see what happened. I didnt get my first pick, so Jimmy likely headed for the FTB as expected. I got my 3rd pick in Asia and much to my positive surprise, ended up with my 6th pick in Europe as Jimmy indeed chose the double pick Scandinavia option. Nonetheless, I am not sure whether he suspects me in Europe now. Basically he has two options at this point:
Approaching me in Australia (because he thinks he has an easy bonus income in Scandinavia) OR being over careful in Scandinavia because of that counter option. This is exactly the situation were I open a new variant in LadderBud, playing through both options.OptionA
: He threatens me in Australia
For the reasons mentioned above, this is very likely. And if he does, I get a problem: I need 5 armies to secure a bonus myself in Asia and I need at least 3 more armies for the Scandinavia counter, leaving me only 2 armies to defend my position. Moreover, I know he has first turn in turn 2. Therefore I have to move my armies in Australia to minimize the risk of getting eliminated. OptionB
: He is over careful and heads for Scandinavia.
This is what I would have done if I got his picks. The game would become difficult then. Anyway, I need to finish the South-Asia bonus and I need to move the armies in Australia to avoid the worst case discussed in OptionA. I could gain a small advantage eventually when I myself enter Southpole the following turn then
As expected, he enters full force (having deployed +5 armies in southpole), meaning that he probably isnt aware of my presence in Europe. He needs 2 armies in Scandinavia but theoretically he could do the job by deploying only 1 additional army as well. However, I expect he does will deploy 2 armies. Still, I want to attack with at least 5 armies in case he smells the rat, which means I have to deploy +4 in Europe. If he goes full force to Sweden, he has done a brilliant job: First distracting me in Southpole and then surprising me with a stack in Sweden, I would probably loose the game in this case. But thats unlikely, so I have 1 army to spare to defend my position in Australia, he has first turn. There is a small probability that he really eliminates me in Australia, but he must suspect that I deploy there, so I can risk to use only 1 army.
Predictions worked perfectly. Now I only have to make sure not to make any stupid mistakes. I could think of blockading, pressuring further into east russia, many options would work as I have the income advantage. I just have to make sure not to get eliminated in Australia and hold my position in Scandinavia. And that's exactly how it ended, Jimmy tried a last desparate counterattack in Scandinavia (what else could he do) and surrenders. No shame, he didn't use LadderBud.