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Subject: Crushing Britain rss

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Vicomte13 13
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The British start out with a huge lead. Their Navy, with 38 factors, is stronger than the next two navies (France and Russia) combined (37 factors). If the game ended before it began, the British would start with 87 Victory Points from the value of their provinces.

The two next closest powers are the USA (which would have 32 points (Alaska + Monroe Doctrine success + Open Door Policy success) if the game ended before it started, and then France, with 31 VP for its four colonies.

Everybody, even France and America, needs a long game. Britain wants as short a game as possible, without being the one to trigger the Great War (and thereby suffer a triple penalty - that will ensure a British loss early in the game regardless of the 87 VP opening advantage).

The British player's position appears strong, but it really isn't all THAT great, because with that Victory Point divisor of 10, a place like Canada is only worth 9 points to the British at the end of the game. If the Americans were to capture it and put a Possession marker there, it would be worth 18 points to them, more than double what it is worth to the British (of course, the Americans would have to spend 40L to get that possession marker, which is worth 8 VP, so the NET gain to the Americans is only 11). If the Italians somehow grabbed Canada as a Possession (!), it would be worth 36 points to them at game end (even at the cost of 16 VP to place the Possession, that's still a net 20 VP to Italy). (Of course, if Italy were to ever succeed in ousting the British from Canada and establishing their own Possession marker there, it would frankly be time for every other player in the game to commit sepuku to escape the shame...)

The British start out with a base treasury of 37L coming from their existing colonies. Depending on the Colonial Office and Random Event die rolls, they will get an additional 15 to 45L, which could be halved to 7 to 22L, or doubled to 30 to 90 by Random Events. So the British range of funds available on turn one will be between 44L (if they roll a 1 on the Colonial Office table and also have a Liberal Victory), to 127 (if they roll a 6 and have a Conservative Victory). Given that the Conservative Victory requires spending 20L on units, the net available to the British to build Control markers on Turn 1 will range between 44 and 107. At 20L apiece, that means that the British will be able to place betweem 2 and 5 Protectorates, if they decide to go for control.

Note that this doesn't permit the British to squash out foreign Interest markers (especially the Italians, who can build up a huge head of steam without ever placing a Control marker). To stop that Italian strategy, the British have to build full Possessions, and they could only build 2 of those on Turn 1 even if they had the best possible die rolls.

Each turn after that the British will have more, but the point still stands that it is tough for the British to conduct a determined effort to squash out the Italian Interest strategy without the cooperation of others.

Nevertheless, though the British position is not as overmighty as it appears, it is still in very advantageous - too advantageous.

It is prudent, therefore, for the French, Japanese and American players, and one other European power, to all cooperate together to destroy the British Empire on the first turn of the game.

Note well: this is a 5-power war, but it does not touch off the Great War because only three of those powers are European.

If you combine the French, Russian, Japanese and American fleet strength, that's 51 factors, versus the British 38 factors.

Just for the British to keep a one factor advantage over the beginning strength of that alliance would require them to build 14 factors of naval strength, at a cost of 42L, which would probably be more than half of the British treasury...and that all assumes the British see it coming.

It is best if the British do NOT see it coming. Instead, the Japanese, Americans, Russians and French should all content themselves with placing Interests hither and yon to build up their economies for the next turn.

The Allies have to be careful not to telescope what they are doing. What they should do is form a secret offensive alliance, each agreeing to attack Britain.

Because they're each going to be spending their economies on Interests, not Protectorate markers or military units, they won't have Treasury left over at the end of the turn, after the war, for any of them to build Control markers grab pieces of the British Empire, but that's not the POINT. There will be time to do that later. The point at start is to knock out the British so that everybody is on a level playing field, not to divvy up the Empire. Indeed, the fact that nobody is going to get anything out of the war is one of the reasons why each of the war powers has an incentive to fight it.

To provoke the war is easy enough: France puts down a Protectorate or an Influence in Egypt and refuses to budge. Let the British call a Council of Europe, threaten and bluster. At the threat, the Russians may consider stepping forward to show their defensive alliance with the French (they each get 2 VP, so this makes sense). The British won't be scared to get into a war with France and Russia, as this is toothless from the British perspective.

France doesn't back down, and either France and her allies declare on Britain.

The fleets start to move. France's into the Med, the Japanese and Russians into the South China Sea )(where they have a coaling station thanks either to the French in Cochin China or their own Influence marker in Taiwan). On their way Westwards, the Japanese will stop and blockade Hong Kong, causing it to surrender, and then Malaysia, causing the same.

The French, Russians and Japanese will join in the Indian Ocean, where they will blocade India, causing the surrender of the entire British Army there. They will then move on, with armies, etc., to the West. Cape Colony will have to be taken out by force. The other African colonies of Britain on the Atlantic side will surrender.

Finally, the combined fleet will move into the North Atlantic, join with the Americans, and either fight the British (if the British will fight), or send in armed forces to seize Canada.

As an incentive to get the Japanese on board, and to be sure to root out the British everywhere, the French may consider moving their merchant fleet out of the South China Sea (abandoning Cochin China) and putting it into Oceania (perhaps with a coaling station in the New Hebrides. This way Australia and New Zealand and Fiji do not escape.

When the war is over, the British will have lost all of their colonies except for Newfoundland and Guiana (net -32 per turn, including garrisons), and their navy as well, if they dared to fight with it.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand will no longer be colonies but will be independent (and everybody can therefore put Influence markers there.

Nobody will have gotten any colonies out of the war (and the French may have lost one in Cochin China). So, the game will end with the French being in first place, but with only a very modest lead. If the British fought, the French and Russian fleets may have been eliminated, the Americans too depending on the circumstances. Essentially everybody will be practically at zero, and nobody will have an incentive for a short game now.

Britain certainly can build her way back from the hole, but given that divisor, it will be tough.

The game will now be a free for all, with nobody wanting the Great War but the British (and everybody being able to take on the British single-handedly.

Britain will almost certainly lose, but there's no telling who will win.

The advantages for every other player are SO STRONG in this, that it ought to be the standard preparatory step in the game, such that the British should FEAR it every game, and be much more polite. Buy the French off with an Alliance (let the French get that 2 VP per turn) and agree to ample condominia to permit each to get the East-West and North South paths: be nice.

France alone can provide the naval punch to make this strategy work, and it is much in EVERYBODY'S interest (except Britain's) for France to do so. The only way to AVOID it is for the British to make fast allies with the French - which is of course precisely what the British and French DID in the historical instance.

The existence of this strategy, and the unstated threat as a standard opening to bring down the British in EVERYBODY'S interest, should always be on the cards to bring the British back down to earth and make them more humble.

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Ben Foy
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I agree that the powers should gang up on Britain. But you are underestimating how hard that is. Here are some pitfalls to the strategy you've detailed:

Russia and Italy

Russia and Italy don't want war. They aren't going to do anything to ratchet up the tensions unless they get a lot out of it. They will be great proponents for peace. You can't count on Russia to agree to this unless Russia's position is really bad. A good Britain will make sure Russia never gets that desperate.


Fleet Positions

Usually France, Germany and the US gang up on Britain. Their Fleets can all immediately get to the same sea zone. Once you bring in Japan and Russia, your fleets are split and Britain can fight them separately.

Separate Peace

Hey US, would you be interested in a co-dominion in Canada? Then France and Germany are all alone against Britain. The allies against Britain should always be worried about this. It becomes a prisoner’s dilemma.

Also there are some issues that you have to worry about:

Re-Garrisoning Troops

During the War, troops leave, die or are captured. When does re-garrisoning happen? The rules suggest this happens during movement, which means Britain can save a lot on maintenance during a war year. A re-garrison after war house rule does make sense.

Newfoundland

Newfoundland is a big drain on the British economy. If Britain can reduce it or get rid of it, they are much better off.

Britain has even more options than this but I grow tired of writing. BTW, the squitting of interests happens during the last turn since Britain doesn't want to kill it's economy. But killing the interests can have a big impact. Since it denies powers the double value for the interests and Britain gets greater value for the area.
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Ben Foy
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BTW, this is from the Pax Ladder:

Quote:
HOW DO THE POWERS RANK?
Three new games, and Italy and America combined to perform so poorly that they were the only two to have their averages drop - the other five all improved! Of course, only Britain had a large jump, and the remaining four just barely inched up, so GB moved further away from the pack...

POWER Wins Pts. Avg. Change
Great Britain 30 409.0 4.87
Russia 12½ 335 3.99
Italy 7 302.5 3.60
United States 9½ 299.5 3.57
France 13 276.0 3.29
Germany 10 266.5 3.17
Japan 2 211.5 2.52


http://www.oelib.com/pax/ladder/ladder.html#POWERS

I almost won this game with Britian:

Quote:
GM: Wayne Williams
The game ended in the Colonial Combat Phase of 1892 when ETI hit 100 due to the removal of a marker due to unsuppressed Unrest. Russia was the sole power to take the Great War Penalty. There were no Chinese Rebellions.

Position Power Player Victory Points
1 United States Joshua Landrum 170
2 Britain Benjamin Foy 135
3 France Carlo Amato 115
4 Germany Don Stanner 102
5½ Japan Rich Thumann 99
5½ Italy Alasdair Brooks 99
7 Russia Cory Miller -60


I had the ETI up to 99 (I think) and the Events didn't increase the ETI. So there was a move phase where no one could do anything except place influence and interest markers for fear they would get the triple penalty. At one point France, Germany, the US and Japan were all at war with me. I love this game!

http://www.oelib.com/pax/ladder/bos.html
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Vicomte13 13
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The French have to be good diplomats.

Part of what I embedded in what I wrote was that all of the powers: Japan, France, Russia, and the US all agree that they are going to place all of their economy out there as interest or influence markers during the turn. They're not going to hold onto money to be ABLE to build a control marker later if the British offer a separate peace. Without any money, nobody can pay for it.

Remember too that, as a blandishment to Japan to enter (and also to wipe the British out of Oceania too), the French pull their merchant out of the South China sea and thereby lose Cochin China. This gives the Japanese the prospect of getting their "Co-Prosperity Sphere" Bonus.

Their Interest and Influence markers out there on the map are immune to the war, and will increase their economy, but once the war is over on the first turn the British will have nothing left but Newfoundland and Guiana. They will have lost ALL of their colonies. The French, Japanese, Russians and Americans won't have pick up and of those colonies - they'll be open for the taking - but the British won't be in them anymore.

For Japan, this means no Hong Kong, but it also means no French in Indochina. Japan's building vector is obvious after that.

For Russia, this means there is no thirty-factor British Army in India. India is wide open. On Turn 2 the Russians can put their Control in Afghanistan, and on Turn 3, expand down into northern India. They have a clear overland path into India.

For France, this means that they are now in the role of the British, as the leading Naval Power, and can go out and grab some of the territories that would have been British. But the French don't have the economic base to be able to grab most of it. There are plenty of pickin's there for all.

For the Americans - and everybody else - it means that Canada, Australia and New Zealand will now be places where everybody can safely put influence markers and rack up a lot of points.

The nice thing about the First Turn War is that nobody is in a position to grab territory from it if they spend their money putting out influence and interest markers and don't save money for any sort of control marker placement later. The control markers can start going out the SECOND Turn.

Britain will not be in any position for a revanche either. Remember, you've made a POINT of not occupying Newfoundland or Guiana. The British are stuck with the -25 for those two colonies, and DON'T get the automatic +45 Colonial Office, therefore. It may well be that Britain has to lose one of those colonies, down to a Protectorate because they can't afford to pay for the counter maintenance. However, if the Allies decline to walk through Guiana and Newfoundland, the British cannot simply slough them off in the war.

Britain will probably end up with 5L or less to spend on Turn 2, and will be in the worst position economically of any country in the game.

BTW, here is the way I have always played regarrisoning, following the strict read of the rules:
When the war is over, POWs go to the home country, and forces at sea go to the home country. The colonies will be regarrisoned during movement the NEXT turn, because the ungarrisoned markers are not removed until them. Regarrisoning is mandatory THEN, but not before.

So, this means that the British will pay -25 for Newfoundland and Guiana on Turn 2, cannot ESCAPE having to do so, and will have to regarrison that turn, but they won't have to pay the 2L for the garrison at the beginning of the turn.

Consider the economic position at the beginning of Turn 2:
France has Possessions in Guiana, Algiers and Senegambia, and a Protectorate in Egypt.
Assuming she had a Colonial office of 20 last turn, plus the 9L from her colonies, she was able to build an Interest marker in Brazil only, and one strength point. She has nothing out in garrison as it was all at sea at the end of the war.
So, France's economy at the start of Turn 2 is 37L plus whatever she gets from her colonial office - say, between 42 and 82 total.
Her Victory Point total at the end of Turn 1 was: 33

Russia had 30 to spend last turn. She put out 6 interest markers, one each in Manchuria, Korea, Anatolia, Taiwan, Port Arthur and one of the other Chinese 4 areas. Total economy this turn: 36+30 Colonial Office: 66.
Her VP total at the end of Turn 1 was 28.
She's not quite in the lead, but with the British and their 87 gone, Russia doesn't need nearly as long a game as before. Also note that she's in a great position to descend on India with a huge army in turn after turn.

Japan had 30 to spend last turn. She put out two Influence markers (Korea and Taiwan) and two Interest markers (Manchuria and Port Arthur).
Total economy Turn 2: 28 + 30 Colonial Office = 58.

Total Victory points end of Turn 1: 30. She's halfway between France and Russia, and they're all very close. It isn't as though by helping France take out Britain that the Japanese have fallen behind. They have greatly simplified their own path to victory. Also, if the French voluntarily gave up Cochin China and got out of the South China Sea, with the British gone from Hong Kong too - and the Russians focused on India, Japan will have a free hand.

Eliminating the British gives both Japan and Russia a clear path to Empire without having to fight each other, and without either having to fight the French.

The Americans had a variable amount to spend on Turn 1, with 9 from Alaska-minus-garrison and between 10 and 30. Let's say they rolled up a 20 Colonial office, giving them 29 to spend. With America, I always put a Protectorate in Hawaii on Turn 1 if I can, to keep others from meddling. That costs 20. 5 is spent on a Mexican Interest, leaving 4. Spend three on an Army. 3 armies go to Hawaii to win the Combat.

At the Start of Turn 2, America's empire is worth 29L to her, and her variable colonial office is between 10 and 30L, so she'll have between 39L and 59L to work with.
Her Turn 1 end VPs were: 23 + 10 for the Open Door + 10 for the Monroe Doctrine (assuming the game ended then), for 43. The Americans are in the lead, but they're constrained in where they can expand. Canada is independent, so it's NOT simply open to an American grab unless it goes into unrest.

So, all four of the major combattants ended the war about even in VP, with dramatically open possibilities for the future.

Germany, Austria and Italy each did their thing, and none of them need for the game to go on as long. The world is more open to them too.

The Italians will probably have a starting income from their interests (in Egypt, Anatolia, Tangyanika, Kenya, Madagascar and Eritrea) of 38+30= 68.

And Britain?
Britain is a wreck.
She still has two colonies: giving her a -25 economy. She has a big army sitting in her home islands, but no Navy.
If she rolls the best possible roll on the colonial office, she will have 45l-25= 25L. She cannot even build a ten factor fleet. She is now the weakest naval power in the game, smaller than Italy or Germany, smaller, even, than America. She can afford ONE Control marker somewhere. She's going to lose 50 VP at the end of the game for not holding India.
The British cannot win, and they are so weak they will never be able to be a threat even to Italy for several turns, until they can build back up a Fleet.

And there really isn't much that the British can do about any of this if the Allies come after her on Turn 1 if the British have taken any action at all that would cause the French to have the Casus Belli. (And if they don't, then the French will get Egypt without a British fight...and next turn the French will get something else crucial, etc.)

The only potential fly in the ointment here is the business of fleets.

But this is something that can be resolved fairly handily. The Russians in their turn can concentrate their fleet in Vladivostok. (or the Black Sea and sail through to join the French. The French fleet is in the Mediterranean. (The Americans stay in port for a long time). The French, remember, hold Egypt. And so the French fleet moves to the Med and joins up with the Russian and Japanese, coming from the East, then they sail around and wipe out the British. Eventually the Americans can join them.

Of course, if the French roll something huge on their colonial office they might invest in a little bit more naval power.

If the Allies play it wrong, they could end up with the British fighting a 1:1 on the combined French/Russian fleet, getting a 1/2 Ex, which would leave the British with 19 factors, more than the combined Japanese and Americans.

So yes, the Allies have to plan the naval war carefully.
 
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Warren Bruhn
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Vicomte, have you actually done this in a game? I would love to see the sessions report about this strategy being put into actual practice.

I'm not sure what the reference to having to purchase control markers for captured British colonies is all about. The original rules don't require powers to pay for control markers that are used to replace enemy control markers that were captured in war. The winning powers get these for free. So somebody, most likely France, will benefit greatly from this war, especially if Indian control markers are conquered by the winners. Japan can't take enough advantage in the beginning due to lack of merchant fleets that could link Japan to the Indian Ocean. Russia and the USA also have much less to gain on the first turn due to lack of merchant ships. So France would be the big winner.

There was a report somewhere, perhaps on the Pax Ladder, about an actual game involving a Franco-Japanese alliance at war against Britain. In theory, this was supposed to have been a plausible strategy, but it turned out somewhat ugly in practice. It did work, sort of, but was not much fun for the players. Also, one big war like that can drive the ETI up so early in the game that it will end very soon. Not many turns will be left in which to take advantage of the spoils.

Re: France -- why would the other players want to replace a dominant British navy with a dominant French navy? ...especially given that France also has some VP lead at the start of the game? France has a few merchant fleets at the begining, and a good colonial income too, so why remove the main check on French expansion, the British navy?

Some powers get VP from defensive alliances with Britain, including France, Italy, and Japan. Britain can use those 2 VP per turn VP as incentives to help prevent this deadly alliance from forming. Besides, Japan and France may clash in Asia, and Italy and France may clash in the Med. Britain can offer some incentives to the USA as well, in terms of allowing the USA to get the Panama Canal built first, supporting the USA on the Monroe Doctrine, or supporting the USA on the Open Door.

The USA really lacks military power at start. Even thinking about war at the start is not wise for the USA. It will probably take three or four turns just to build enough military to take that free shot at Spain when Yellow Press occurs. The USA needs to concentrate on grabbing Hawaii before another power gets it, along with spreading interest markers in order to get enough income to build the military that will be needed for war with Spain. Building military units on the first turn in order to take on Britain seems a bit crazy to me. But I can see how some gung ho new player for the USA might want to try it,... once.

Britain should be able to get a feel for an alliance forming against Britain early, and may well be able to back down, even over Egypt. If France gets Egypt early, will any other power be willing to let France get anything else?

And what is Germany doing while this is happening?
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Warren Bruhn
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Ah, here it is! Jim Bailey's article about such a war on web grognards:

http://grognard.com/info/paxstrat.txt
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Ben Foy
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VIcomte13 wrote:
Part of what I embedded in what I wrote was that all of the powers: Japan, France, Russia, and the US all agree that they are going to place all of their economy out there as interest or influence markers during the turn. They're not going to hold onto money to be ABLE to build a control marker later if the British offer a separate peace. Without any money, nobody can pay for it.


You might playing under a different rules interpretation than me (not unusual for Pax). Possessions can be given away (at no cost to either player) in a separate peace. You can even establish co-dominions (at no cost to either player) in a separate peace. So I don't see any reason Britain can't do a separate peace.

VIcomte13 wrote:
Their Interest and Influence markers out there on the map are immune to the war, and will increase their economy, but once the war is over on the first turn the British will have nothing left but Newfoundland and Guiana.


I normally put out interest and influence markers as Britain during turn 1 because it is the most efficient way to grow your economy.

I've seen Britain get beat up and lose a lot of territories before but I've never seen them lose everything. And the powers destoying the British possessions instead of taking them over is interesting.
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Vicomte13 13
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Vicomte, have you actually done this in a game? I would love to see the sessions report about this strategy being put into actual practice.


I have tried.

I have played this game through about 10 times with people over the years. Only one of those games was a game in which everybody was a repeat performer who knew the game well. The other games always had one or more learners, sometimes four or five, and I was more often than not the one doing the teaching.

The problem in all games where people are learning is that the game cannot be played anywhere close to its potential. Sure, you CAN just wild-man the new guy playing Italy, because you know that if he is allowed to build up like the other players are doing, he'll win too easily, But jeez, if you do that for no reason he can discern, he hates the game and won't want to play again. The game is actually most interesting if you give the most inexperienced player Britain, because then he'll just sort of flounder around, nobody will attack him, and he gets to build things...and everybody else has a chance to do interesting things.

Anyway, given group dynamics, going out there with some serious skulduggery from the get-go in order to "get England" was just not cricket.

I've only had ONE game in which everybody - all seven players - knew what he was doing and had some experience, and in THAT game I played Russia. I wanted to play France, but we drew randomly and I got Russia.

And on the first turn of the game, the very first Random Event: Russian Upheaval. Swell. I couldn't so much as put a marker on the board the first turn of the game. Japan put a protectorate in Korea on the first turn without firing a shot. (Wouldn't you?)

I tried to gin up something against Britain along the lines discussed here, but I got nowhere with the French player. He was trying to put protectorates somewhere in Africa, and just didn't understand that France has to take the lead in all of the diplomacy of the game, or the British will simply steer the board. In fact, he played it so cool he wouldn't even take my proffered defensive alliance (and the 2 VP per turn), because he saw my eyes bulging out over Korea and figured I'd drag him into some war with Japan.

When you have ZERO in your treasury on Turn One, and everybody knows you can't do diddly, it's tough to get any enthusiasm going, so while I can see the potential in this strategy and game it out, I've never been in the position to execute it.

Had I played France in that game (the country I am MEANT to play), I would have certainly pressed for it.

That game turned out to be the worst I ever played.

Because then, in the SECOND turn of the game: Russian Upheaval. Again. Merry Christmas.

I did not win that game.
I did not have so much as an Interest marker on the board until after 1888.
Japan got Korea. Japan got Taiwan.
I came in very near the bottom.
But France lost. This game was in the late 80s, but I remember that.
Served him right.

All of the powers except Austria have their doubling event, but Russia is the only one with a "Go to Hell. Go Directly to Hell. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $30" possibility.

But I digress...


Man, that just opened my worst memory of the game. Like eating a bad oyster: you don't forget.

Anyway, no: I have never been able to play this out in practice.

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Ben Foy
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VIcomte13 wrote:
And on the first turn of the game, the very first Random Event: Russian Upheaval. Swell. I couldn't so much as put a marker on the board the first turn of the game. Japan put a protectorate in Korea on the first turn without firing a shot. (Wouldn't you?)


I think "Russian Upheaval" is a flaw in the game. It shouldn't hit on the first turn of the game and should only hit one time. I played Russia when it hit on turns 2 and 3. cry

BTW, when I play Japan, I usually have a protectorate in Korea (typically a codo with Russia and Britain).
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Vicomte13 13
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I have had this particular rules battle many times before. Sometimes I've won it, because it's hard to argue with my logic. Sometimes I've lost it by vote.

Here's the problem.

We all know that the movement and marker placement portion of the game is chaotic, and some people complain about that. But that is actually a good simulation of real life. In real life, there isn't a "game sequence", and actually, everybody acts all at once, and people who jump to the punch get there.

So, for example, I have insisted in the past that the "First to build the Panama Canal" really means just exactly that, as written. There is no sequencing in the game, other than that you have to spend the money BEFORE you place a marker (and you have to indicate what you are doing as you place the marker).

So, if a player simply reduces his treasury by 40 pounds quickly, moves a merchant into the Caribbean, puts down an Interest and then the Canal all in one two second sweep, he got the first canal, even if another player is trying to figure out when he is going to do it. Just like "slapjack", if you pay and get the marker down first, even a second before, you win the race. There is a literal physical race component to the game, and I insist on that, because the rules say that. It's important, because one strategy is to hang back to see what others will do, then react. That's great, but whoever gets the marker on the map first wins the race, even if it is because the other guy went to the toilet or whatever.

If somebody wants to be sure to win the race, then he has to move fast. That limits his other options.

Ok, with that sort of absolutely literalist read of the rules in mind, now let's turn to the problem - and it really is a PROBLEM in the rules of placing markers.

The rules do not say that it costs money to PLACE a marker. It says that it costs money to BUY a marker. Does that make a difference? Yes.

It means that you don't have a marker to place until you've paid for it.

The only place in the rules where it specifically says you can put a marker on the board for FREE is in the aftermath of a Chinese Rebellion.

It never says anywhere else that you can, and it does indicate in various places, as a reminder, that you have to pay for markers. So, for example, in the marker adjustment phase, you can place a marker, or upgrade one, but you have to PAY for the upgrade. This is paying for something outside of the movement phase, so you'd better have some leftover money in the treasury, otherwise you can't do it.

Likewise, the rules say that you can swap out marker for marker, to exchange colonies, but you have to pay for the new marker you place.

Ok.

The language in the war end phase is too lapidarian. It merely tells you that you adjust markers. It doesn't say you can place them for free. It doesn't say you can't.

I've found different people assume different things about these rules.

While I appreciated Greg Costikyan's philosophical commentaries, I would have very much liked it if he would have made some things clearer.

Here, then, is what I believe is the correct read of the rules, applied LITERALLY.

(1) The order of movement and placement is the literal order they happen, and you can't stop time. Nor can you "undo" any expense or build or marker placement. If it's done, it's DONE, and you can't take it back.

(2) You can't put anything on the map without having paid for it first.

(3) You can pay for control and interest/influence markers without placing them in an area. You just stack them in their home country. THOSE are the markers you have available. So, you can spend money later in the turn to place something on the map, or you can buy it already and have it sit on the side unplayed. The rules do not anywhere say that payment for the marker is payment for the act of PLACING it. Sometimes, you have to pay to place a marker, yes, but when it speaks of buying the marker, it speaks of buying it, not placing it in an area on the map. You can, of course, do that simultaneously. But you don't have to. You can buy the marker and wait for an opening. Note again, though, that this is literal. If you've paid 20L to buy a protectorate marker and have it sitting there in your country later in the turn, if the opportunity comes for you to be able to UPGRADE, you COULD place that marker, to get the benefit of upgrading, but you DON'T get the money back for the difference. You NEVER get money back. You can leave money unspent, to spend the 15L, say, to UPGRADE from an Interest to a Protectorate after a Congress of Europe, OR you can just put the Protectorate you already bought earlier (for 20L) but haven't placed yet. This is less efficient, because you spent 20L on that marker, but you'd only have to spend 15L to buy a NEW marker on an upgrade. Still, the rule is mechanical and literal. You buy A SPECIFIC MARKER, not a notional marker, and once you have bought THAT marker, you can't sell it back, or take a cost reduction if you place it as an upgrade. You COMMIT when you buy. That can result in inefficiency.

But it also allows you to decide. If you have 20L left at the end of movement, you could leave it there in the HOPE of being able to spend it later on upgrading markers (or buying new ones) after a Congress of Europe or regular negotiation, or the like. And if none of that happens, then you've got 20L to be divided for Victory Points at the appropriate time. OR you could decide that you're going to spend the 20L to buy a Protectorate (or two Influence markers, or four Interests), and now you have them, sitting on your home country, ready to deploy. But you have just exactly that marker, and you can't treat it as some OTHER marker. You can place it in a post-negotiation upgrade, but you don't get the money back for the difference. Once you've spent money, you never get it back.

An example of the same thing in the game is the difference between spending 30 to buy a 10-factor fleet, 30 to buy three 3-factor fleets, or 30 to buy ten 1-factor fleets. You may decide later that you really wish you had those 1-factor units as army garrisons instead, but the game is quite rigid in that regard. You CAN'T "make change" or "recombine" military units. If you have ten 1-factor fleets and really need to place some garrisons out there, you may have to put a 3-factor garrison, or a 10-factor garrison, and pay those points, because once you have built your military units, there is absolutely nothing you can do to restructure your military and change those units into anything else other than get them destroyed in combat.

The game is RIGID and LITERAL in its application to units and expenditures. And I see nothing in the language to suggest that it is any LESS rigid and absolutely literal in its application to interest and control markers.

You have choices - spend the money so you're sure to have the markers if you need them (and not simply lose the money to Victory Point purchases), but then you are rigidly bound to what you bought, and what you bought is what you bought,and you can place THAT, but you can't place it as though it were something else. If you bought a Possession marker, you have a possession marker, not an OPTION to place a Possession or a Protectorate marker. If you bought a 10-fleet, you have a 10-fleet, not the OPTION to have a 10-fleet, or three 3-fleets and a 1-fleet.

This is important, because the movement phase is fluid enough. I think the rules impose a "rigidity of purchase" rule that is intentional, because it imposes control and sequencing.

(4) The only time the rules ever say you can place a marker for FREE is after a Chinese Rebellion.

Therefore, the only time you can place a marker for free is after a Chinese Rebellion.

If you defeat an Unrest, you can indeed place a control marker: IF you BOUGHT one and placed it there.

If you defeat the Ottomans, you can indeed place a control marker, if you've already bought one and have it ready, or if you have the money to buy one.

Same thing with conquest in war. There's no question that you can, through occupation, remove the enemy's markers. And the rules say you can put your markers there. But the rules never say you can do that for free.

Therefore, my literal read of the rules is that you CAN'T. You have to either spend money to place markers then, or you have to have already bought them and have them ready to place.

I've had arguments that the rules don't require that, but in truth, the language of the rules leaves it unresolved.

The only place where the rules specifically let you place a control marker for FREE is after a Chinese Rebellion.

The decision matters a great deal.

And the rules don't answer directly.

I think my read is the most literal, because it is literally literal.

I agree that the rules don't SAY that you have to pay for the markers you place after a war. But they also don't ever say that any marker is ever FREE, other than the one time they do in the case of China.

They don't say that the markers are free after you beat the Ottomans, for example. If they're not free after you beat the Ottomans, why would they be free after you've beaten the English?

This rules interpretation has to be fully vetted before any game.

Obviously if the rule is that conquest lets you put a control marker, then the outcome of the First Turn War we've been discussing is that the Americans get Canada (and perhaps Newfoundland and Guiana, if they want them).(If I were the American player, I'd take them, just because.)

The Japanese get Hong Kong.

The Russians get the seven provinces of India (the Japanese will agree to this, if they're smart, because it means that the Russians will have used all their control markers and so Japan will get undivided possession of Korea and Taiwan without a fight). Also, because the French pulled out of Cochin China, the Japanese will eventually get Cochin China, Indochina, Burma and Malaysia.

The French get Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Cape Town and the Gold Coast.

And they all put full possessions in all of these things.

Put these things all together, and everybody comes out about equal in the VP spread (obviously assuming that Japan takes those other territories. Note that neither Russia nor France nor Britain nor Italy nor America will be in any position to prevent the Japanese from doing so on Turn 2).

So, this rule interpretation really matters a great deal. The first several games I played, everybody assumed that you got to place a Control marker automatically after war, but also after conquering a spot in Unrest, without paying.

It was my own closer read of the rules and literal insistence upon them that opened the question.

I am happy to be proven wrong, but I believe that the only place that the rules EVER allow the placement of a FREE control marker (or other marker) is in the case of the Chinese Rebellion. The others all cost money.

Obviously that affects the strategy.

Just as obviously, I love the idea of grabbing the Empire first turn for free.

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Ben Foy
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I'll never criticize anyone for having a different Pax rules interpretation than me. The only question I will ask is: "Is it fun!".
 
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I wish that I could ask these questions directly to Costikyan.
 
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Warren Bruhn
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VIcomte13 wrote:

The only place in the rules where it specifically says you can put a marker on the board for FREE is in the aftermath of a Chinese Rebellion.

The language in the war end phase is too lapidarian. It merely tells you that you adjust markers. It doesn't say you can place them for free. It doesn't say you can't.

(1) The order of movement and placement is the literal order they happen, and you can't stop time. Nor can you "undo" any expense or build or marker placement. If it's done, it's DONE, and you can't take it back.

If you have ten 1-factor fleets and really need to place some garrisons out there, you may have to put a 3-factor garrison, or a 10-factor garrison, and pay those points, because once you have built your military units, there is absolutely nothing you can do to restructure your military and change those units into anything else other than get them destroyed in combat.

...the only time the rules ever say you can place a marker for FREE is after a Chinese Rebellion.

Therefore, the only time you can place a marker for free is after a Chinese Rebellion.

Same thing with conquest in war. There's no question that you can, through occupation, remove the enemy's markers. And the rules say you can put your markers there. But the rules never say you can do that for free.

I've had arguments that the rules don't require that, but in truth, the language of the rules leaves it unresolved.

The only place where the rules specifically let you place a control marker for FREE is after a Chinese Rebellion.

The decision matters a great deal.

And the rules don't answer directly.

I think my read is the most literal, because it is literally literal.

I agree that the rules don't SAY that you have to pay for the markers you place after a war. But they also don't ever say that any marker is ever FREE, other than the one time they do in the case of China.

They don't say that the markers are free after you beat the Ottomans, for example. If they're not free after you beat the Ottomans, why would they be free after you've beaten the English?

So, this rule interpretation really matters a great deal. The first several games I played, everybody assumed that you got to place a Control marker automatically after war, but also after conquering a spot in Unrest, without paying.

I am happy to be proven wrong, but I believe that the only place that the rules EVER allow the placement of a FREE control marker (or other marker) is in the case of the Chinese Rebellion. The others all cost money.

Just as obviously, I love the idea of grabbing the Empire first turn for free.


Unfortunately, vicomte13, that repetitious assertion is just flat wrong. On page 24 of the rules, right hand column, middle of the page, under "Negotiation and Ending a War" the rules say, "The victorious players can, by mutual agreement, put any legal status markers in each of the Areas conquered from the defeated Alliance, whether those Areas were originally Protectorates or Possessions, at no cost in [pounds]."

How can the rule get any more plain than that? The markers are free.

The Ottoman War should follow the general war end rules, or so it seems to me.

(That's not to say that I like that rule. From a simulation point of view I'd rather impose a cost, but impose that cost on the following turn. I just don't see why a newly conquered colony would not require the expense of a new colonial staff that speaks the language of the new colonial owner.)

Also, on page 13 of the rules, top of right hand column, under "Downgrading Status," it is specifically allowed for players to downgrade their interest and influence markers, although there is no refund of money (next paragraph). It is only the downgrade of control markers that is prohibited.

As for "decommissioning" military or naval units. Some groups allow this, although many would agree that a military or naval unit that is "decommissioned" in one turn cannot be built back (usually as the other type) until the following turn or later. That seems like a perfectly reasonable house rule to me.
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Warren Bruhn
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VIcomte13 wrote:
I wish that I could ask these questions directly to Costikyan.


I don't see anything stopping you from sending "costik" a personal message via BGG. No telling if he'll answer for a while though, as he's busy on some work project and hasn't been posting on the Pax Britannica thread for a long time. He hasn't been much in the rules question answer mode anyway.

Not much rules discussion of this game anywhere. Costik himself put up a revised set of rules on his website. Some others like Shawn Derrick did a bit of rules work on this game in the past. The old yahoo groups were mostly used for organizing PBEM games rather than rules discussions or arguments (unlike the Empires in Arms yahoo group). The Consimworld thread for Pax Britannica has been dead for a long time, but there's less than 250 post there, so it's easy to read through all of them to see if there is any rules discussion. Unfortunately, the rules threads here on this BGG page don't get much response or discussion.

But since this isn't really a tournament oriented game, it isn't too terrible that the game is not played in a uniform way throughout the world.
 
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VIcomte13 wrote:
I wanted to play France, but we drew randomly and I got Russia.

And on the first turn of the game, the very first Random Event: Russian Upheaval. Swell. I couldn't so much as put a marker on the board the first turn of the game. Japan put a protectorate in Korea on the first turn without firing a shot. (Wouldn't you?)

That game turned out to be the worst I ever played.

Because then, in the SECOND turn of the game: Russian Upheaval. Again. Merry Christmas.


I'm thinking about trying a game in which the VP divisor for Russia and Japan is changed to 2.5, even though that is a better deal for Russia than it is for Japan.

I'm also thinking about having players get an extra merchant fleet early, which might radically change the complexity of the competition.

These are just ideas for shaking up the game. This discussion has gotten me thinking about playing again. We definately have the players for Pax Britannica locally, just need to pry them away from Empires in Arms, World in Flames, The Devil's Cauldron, and various Euros and light wargames.

 
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Unfortunately, vicomte13, that repetitious assertion is just flat wrong. On page 24 of the rules, right hand column, middle of the page, under "Negotiation and Ending a War" the rules say, "The victorious players can, by mutual agreement, put any legal status markers in each of the Areas conquered from the defeated Alliance, whether those Areas were originally Protectorates or Possessions, at no cost in [pounds]."

How can the rule get any more plain than that? The markers are free.

The Ottoman War should follow the general war end rules, or so it seems to me.

(That's not to say that I like that rule. From a simulation point of view I'd rather impose a cost, but impose that cost on the following turn. I just don't see why a newly conquered colony would not require the expense of a new colonial staff that speaks the language of the new colonial owner.)

Also, on page 13 of the rules, top of right hand column, under "Downgrading Status," it is specifically allowed for players to downgrade their interest and influence markers, although there is no refund of money (next paragraph). It is only the downgrade of control markers that is prohibited.

As for "decommissioning" military or naval units. Some groups allow this, although many would agree that a military or naval unit that is "decommissioned" in one turn cannot be built back (usually as the other type) until the following turn or later. That seems like a perfectly reasonable house rule to me.


You're quite right about the free markers after a war. I don't know how I missed that for years, but it's right there.

(I agree that downgrade of interest and influence markers is a free act. What I was getting at is the notion of pre-purchasing control markers for deployment, and once they're purchased, they're purchased as-is, like military units.)

That fact of free control markers after a war changes everything, particularly vis-a-vis a four way war with Britain. That war will now need to be delayed until the Japanese can get their second merchant fleet, but no further.

Now roll the same scenario we have discussed, but with the twist of an extra turn, and Russia's need to put a control marker in Afghanistan on Turn 2.

Now the end of the war allocations will look like this, in terms of VP of provinces awarded:

TO USA: Canada (Possession) 19 VP,
If they WANT Newfoundland and Guiana, they can have them (if the French support the American condominium to replace the British I think that the Dutch will back down, though this is a little murky). That would give the Americans an additional 6 VP. If the French give the Americans Guiana by swapping out their own Possession marker, there would only be two colonies in the area, the economic value would go up to three (per Costikyan's revised rules), so the American VP total for Guiana + Newfoundland would go up to 8 VP. That's a potential net 27 VP gain for the Americans, though admittedly Newfoundland is no prize. Guiana with an EV of 3 only costs 5 L per turn (vice ten with 3 condominium powers and an EV of 2) so the net benefit to the American economy is +25 for Canada - 15 for Newfoundland - 5 for Guiana = Net +5. This is modest in economic terms, but the American risks are modest, and they get 27 VP out of it.

In game terms, leaving the British saddled with Newfoundland and Guiana imposes a -25 L cost on them every turn, plus an additional -2 L for the minimum garrisons. But if the US had the chance to grab all of Canada, could we really just leave a huge chunk of it British for game reasons? No. You bite the bullet and turn all of America red of course (and it does give you a few VP at game end, which will be fairly quick because of the tensions wrought by the war.

Also note that the USA's contribution to the war is minor: a 3-factor fleet or two and a couple of infantry strength points. This is helpful for the Battle of the Atlantic and taking out Canada, but it isn't really NECESSARY, so if the US doesn't join, the war can still be prosecuted.

Of course, if the US refuses to join, then the FRENCH get Canada and there is nothing that the US will be able to do about it. And that right there is a good enough reason for the US to enter.


TO JAPAN: Waiting the turn lets Japan pick up Hong Kong and Malaysia as possessions. Also, the Japanese are encouraged to enter because the French will be pulling their merchant fleet out of the South China Sea to put it in Oceania, abandoning Cochin China for eventual Japanese takeover.
So, the immediate VP gain to Japan is 40 VP. And the next turn the Japanese pick up another potential 43 VP for eventual possessions in Cochin China and Indochina, plus the 5 VP at game end for there being nobody but the Japanese in those areas.

The Japanese get more out of it than the Americans, but the Americans get Canada, and that's the best place on the board for the Americans to have.

Also note that from the discussion below, that the Russians will have placed all of their control markers in India, which gives the Japanese a free hand to take exclusive control of Korea and Taiwan as well (remember, the French are out of the South China Sea, the British are destroyed by the war, and the Russians have placed all their control markers.

So, by the end of the second turn after the war, the Japanese will have picked up another 43 VP from colonies. The Russians, described below, get their whole VP boatload in the turn of the war (assuming they can keep the gains)(which they probably can). It takes the Japanese two extra turns to fully exploit the openings provided by the war (they take the British possessions on the turn of the war, former French Indochina the next turn, and Korea and Taiwan the turn after that), but their total VP pick-up from the war is 131. They will also eventually get Burma, simply because only they and the Russians have access to it, and the Russians will be out of control markers. Add another 13 VP.

Total VP pickup as a result of the war: 144 VP.


TO RUSSIA: The Russians have 7 control markers. They had to place one in Afghanistan to get at India. From there, they place control markers in all 6 provinces of British India. That gives them provinces worth 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 and 7. This is a whopping 124 VP. Russia has a strong incentive to do this.

Of course, the effect of taking out British India in one fell swoop is that the Russians move into first place, and make it impossible for the British to win the game unless they can take it back (which is unlikely, because they will have been destroyed and will have the weakest economy in the game after the war).

A second effect is to effectively end Russia's aggressive colonial ambitions. A control marker, once placed, can't be voluntarily downgraded. With India, the Russians get to place all of their control markers for free, but they have no more. And that means that Japan has a free hand in the East (and Austria-Hungary has a free hand in the Balkans).

Those facts are actually a help in getting the Japanese to be willing to go along with the war and the Germans and Austrians to be quiescent.

TO FRANCE:
France will take everything else - not that there is all that much to take. They will pick up the following provinces from England:

Gold Coast, Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. They also took Egypt themselves to start the war.

This gives them 74 VP worth of gains. Of course if the Americans won't play, they'll get Canada too, for another 12 VP.

So, the total VP from the war is a pickup of either 74 or 86 VP (and the French gave up 10 VP in Cochin China to do it). This is good, and with gains in the following turns - even with Influence and Interest markers placed far and wide - the French have the opportunity to catch up with the Russian lead. Alternatively, the French could persuse the Russians to perhaps not place all seven counters in India, giving the French a toehold on Inda (Bengal is especially good), and leaving the Russians with a marker to go contest Korea with the Japanese.

After the war, the French will still have a lot of work to do to catch up with the newly powerful positions of Russia and Japan. This may be an incentive to try to do something with the Germans instead of the Russians.

But the French get VP's from allying with the Russians. They also get them from allying with the British. The first turn war with the British is good for the French, but a first turn and thereafter alliance with the British to avoid all that is even better for the French.

Given the threat, it's better for the British too.

For here's the thing. If the British know this is coming, they can prepare for the war and maintain a bare naval superiority, but they are then severely constrained in their ability to do much else.
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Vicomte13, perhaps the best way to get a better clue as to whether or not this is really feasible would be to play out a solitaire game and post it here, as in this recent thread:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/746346/pax-britannica-an-ill...

Personally, I'm seeing a lot of potential problems:

1. Russia can get hit with Upheaval, as you described, which can result in no money for troops or markers. Also, if Russia goes after Afganistan, that telegraphs the whole plan to the British player. Afganistan is of such extreme negative worth, that there is no way an intelligent Russian player would go there unless there was a secret treaty brewing for a multinational attack on Britain. Also, Russia has to build more troops to go after Afganistan due to the "Western Garrison" rule. This also telegraphs intentions to the British player. And there are three 10 factor British armies in India that might kill off a lot of Russians long before the coalition fleets could blockade all of the ports in India. (Can't pre-position fleets to anywhere but areas with the nation's own control markers, per the rules for moving fleets during the movement and status change phase.)

2. The USA doesn't have much of a chance to take Canada early on. Canada has to be blockaded due to lack of enough US troops, and any US naval unit which goes out into the North Atlantic is likely to be sunk. This whole crazy plan should be difficult to sell to the US player anyway, as the more likely winners would be France, Russia, and Japan. There's not enough in this deal to make it worthwhile for the USA, and if the pitch is made to the USA player, that is a potential security leak. The USA player could then go to the British player, spill the beans, and offer to ally with Britain for bigger advantages than what the other players have to offer.

3. France can be blocked from part of this plan if the British navy gets all over them quickly enough. Britain might put a big enough army into Egypt to snuff out the French before the French navy can go through the Suez Canal. If the British navy is chasing the French navy out of the Med, then the French could lose Algeria too. Also, France might not have coaling rights in the Indian Ocean. Need to set this up prior to the war and not just relying on a French marker in Egypt. The idea that France would give up Cochin China and get out of the whole China area is an extreme one. Giving up so much to Japan in China in order to hurt Britain might put Japan in a much better postion to win the game than the French. Why would France want to toss the game into the hands of the Japanese? France would need to get a big chunk of India in order to make this worthwhile, which would mean intense and careful negotiation with the Russians. Given that Russia's VP divisor is a 3, and France's VP divisor is a 7, a lot more territory would have to be alloted to France in order to make this project worthwhile. Also, France would have been the first to declare war on Britain over Egypt, so France would be risking the huge triple penalty if this whole adventure turned into the Great War.

4. Japan would probably be delighted to get Korea, Formosa, Cochin China, Hong Kong, and Indochina. A withdrawal of France, Britain, and Russia from China would also leave that old empire at the mercy of the Japanese, with a potentially large VP bonus at the end of the game. But if I were the Japanese, I'd be somewhat suspicious. With a VP divisor of only three, having all the other players give Japan its dream empire right at the beginning of the game might be too good to be true. And if this war were put off until Japan had a second merchant fleet, then Egypt would likely already be in the sole control of Britain, so Egypt wouldn't be the trigger point.

5. Germany is going to sit still for all this? The standoff between big French and British navies is what gives Germany a bit of room to play in. If the French were to come out of this war with the only large fleet left, then that wouldn't be so good for Germany. Especially if several powers with lower VP divisors made huge gains in VP value of territory while Germany was still just plodding along. What if Germany also placed a control marker in Egypt? What if Germany placed control markers in Indochina, Formosa, or Korea, stepping on Japan's toes? What if German had an alliance with Britain, either before or formed during the CoE or during the war? Germany is a pretty big wild card in this whole scheme.

6. Italy might muck things up too, even if Germany doesn't. Italy can benefit from an alliance with Britain. On the other hand, Italy might be a far better partner for France and Japan than Russia, since Italy has the merchant fleet connection to the Indian Ocean, and does not need to go through Afganistan in order to get to India. But Italy's VP divisor is even lower than that of Russia and Japan, so any gains that the others allow to Italy could throw the game into the hands of Italy. And, as with the USA, merely approaching Italy to explore the potential for a war oriented alliance against Britain might let the cat out of the bag. Seems like surprise would be essential. The Italian player could be another security risk.

7. How incompetent does the British player need to be to make this plan work? While the French and allies need to spend a lot of time sorting out their agreement, the British player may very well get wind of the plan. Also, there may be moves that need to be made with markers to set up this war, and not just in Afganistan. Any British player who is reasonably cautious will keep an eye on the naval balance of power, and will likely build a few additional naval units. Also, the movement of navies during a big war can be tricky. Sometimes a retreat actually puts the weaker navy in a better position. And one has to keep an eye on coaling rights. Britain really has no need to commit suicide with the Royal Navy. Also, through a series of moves made around the world, Britain could prolonge a war of this size, causing a huge ETI increase. Playing this out solitaire could be an interesting excercise. It might not be as easy as you make it out to be.

Having said all this, I'd like to see you post a sessions report of a solitaire or pbem game in which this was tried out, as it could be instructive on the limits of British power. Britain should be a big bully, but so far I haven't seen Britain played that way. Britain has been pretty friendly to other powers in my games, particularly France, which I suppose is one reason why Britain has lost.
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As I've thought through the divisors and the interests, I don't think that Russia is the right ally for France. Germany is.

(Also, blockades don't work on Canada, because it's a dominion and therefore it's own supply source. The Canadians have to be dug out with troops).

Germany and France start out between them with 36 points of fleet versus the British 38.

The British colonial economy gives them a guaranteed 37L. Colonial Office will be between 15 and 45, halved to as little as 7 if the British get a Liberal victory; doubled to as much as 90 if the British get a Conservative Victory.

The German economy will be a minimum of 30L, possibly doubled to 60 if the German Navy League gets agitating. And if the Germans get colonial spirited, that can double again to 120.

The French have a net +9 from their colonies, with as little as 15 to as much as 45 from colonial office, possibly doubled to 90.

So, the British normal range of economy is 52-82, and is possibly as low as 44 and as high as 127.

The French economy will normally be 24 to 54, and possibly as high as 99.

The German economy will be 30, 60 or 120.

The German/French low of 54 contrasts favorably with the British law of 44. Indeed, given that the British fleet strength point advantage is only 2, if the combined German/French economic advantage over the British is as little as 9, they can guarantee for themselves a 1 naval factor advantage over the British, giving them the possibility of wiping the British completely off the map.

If the Germans actually got the quadruled economy, they could get naval superiority over the British all by themselves.

The Americans don't have to take Canada. Their real utility is the few extra naval strength points, as is the utility of the Japanese. Because the Japanese only start with one merchant fleet, all they can keep as a Possession is Hong Kong, but it's still a good start to the game for them to grab it.

If the French, Germans, Americans and Japanese play together (forget the Russians), each gets something good about it. The French don't have to abandon Indochina, because the Germans have a fleet in Oceania. So, the Germans are going to pick up Australia, New Zealand and Fiji as spoils of war. The pickups in Africa and India can be carefully calibrated between the French and Germans to keep them both on the Victory Point scale with each other.

The Japanese can only get Hong Kong, but it still may be a good deal for them.

Still, with the French, German and American economies in play, there is Naval power to beat the British outright, especially if it is all done cleverly by, say, supporting Belgium against the British trying to manhandle them in the Kongo (giving the Continental Powers another 3-factor fleet).

In truth, there are three chances in the random events to double the German or French Colonial office, but only one to double the British (and one to halve it). There is no halving for the Germans or French.

All that is really required is an alliance between France and Germany. If the Americans DON'T play, then the French and/or Germans (or both) will get Canada. Indeed, if the Germans and French agree to condominia in everywhere they can reach that they WANT, and then each get to keep the things the other can't reach (Germany gets Oceania; France gets Malaysia and Hong Kong), the Germans will actually run out of Possession markers, and the French will almost entirely build out their empire.

Of course, SUPER nasty double-cross (and the Germans deserve it, because they're sitting in Alsace-Lorraine) is for the Continental Allies to crush the British, and then to be unable to agree on the division of the spoils and do the distasteful and horrific act of fighting over the spoils...which could result in a complete naval victory by the French and the French getting the whole British Empire except for Oceania and shutting Germany out of the game.

And THAT is justice.

But nobody would ever trust France again, so even though that would be fun, the division of spoils should be equitable.

I think just Germany and France alone can manage to take out Britain if the colonial office rolls are reasonable or other events happen. Certainly the two of them together throwing out interest markers can build their collective economies up faster than the British, and be ready to pounce on the British whenever the British seek to set up a Protectorate anywhere.

With that strategy, it needn't even be game 1.

One wonders why the Continentals didn't actually DO that to Britain historically.

And the answer is simple: because the German Kaiser ignored Bismarck and insisted on taking Alsace-Lorraine, and the French were HELLBENT on taking Germany down. So much so that they allied with the English, after 1000 years of war.

Of course the English, for their part, perceived the German danger once the Germans started building fleets. In Diplomacy and Pax Britannica one can do sudden "backstabs", but in real life this didn't happen. Everybody had spies and knew what everybody was doing, and the war when it came was along lines everybody expected. Italy's behavior was in some doubt (but not really all that much).

A wise British player in the game will ally with the French on Turn one, and agree to go out there and divide up all the good spots as Condominia. The net effect of this will be that no combination of powers has the naval strength to stop the British, the British and French will get every good spot on the board, they may even both get the North South AND East West paths, and the French will be happy as clams, having built out their ENTIRE Empire on the best spaces. The British just have more markers, and once the French are done building, the British can just keep going and going. The world will be divvied up between the two. And the French won't build up a fleet (don't need it), so the British will never really be in danger of anybody being able to catch them).

It's the long strategy for Britain.

Short of folks botching it and declareing the Great War early, I don't see how the British, doing everything they can to raise tensions, can get a Great War before Turn 5 or 6 using the best strategy.

British play is intriguing.

Really, the BEST British strategy and the BEST French strategy are for them to ally with each other, keep the peace and divvy up the world together...which is pretty much what they DID historically. Nobody can accuse the Brits or the French of being stupid!

I do have some quibbles with the initial setup, though, because there are certain colonial realities that are not shown, but should be, because they matter strategically.

The Portuguese should have a condominium with the British in Hong Kong. Macau was there before Hong Kong was, and in 1880 British Hong Kong was nothing like what it has become.

The French should have a condominium with the British in the 7-Province of Southern India. At the same time that the French Navy was defeating Admiral Graves off the Virginia Capes, winning American independence, another French fleet under Admiral Suffren was defeated Admiral Hughes in the Indian Ocean and taking what was then the British empire in India, the coastal areas called Pondicherry. Pondicherry became French, and stayed French from then until the French ceded it to India in 1956. There are a million people in the territory, and it was always of strategic significance.

Since the 1600s the French had - and still have - a major port and base in La Reunion, right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. La Reunion is a department of France today. If we are not going to put a box on the map for La Reunion (and thereby give the French one of their coaling stations in the Indian Ocean from the beginning of the game) we most certainly should give France French India by giving them their condominium in southern India. They had that from the 1700s.

Fiji is on the map as a British colony. La Reunion should be on the map as a French possession...and arguably as a French "Department", a dominion. (Comparative economics: Fiji: $4 billion economy; La Reunion: $14 billion economy).


Likewise, the French should also have a condominium with the British in Newfoundland. St. Pierre and Miquelon are French islands, and have been a thorn in the side of the British, then the Canadians, for several hundred years. De Gaulle went there by submarine during World War II to make the territorial point.

These islands are a fishery, and served as a naval base for the French. Also, giving them the burden of Newfoundland will offset the benefit of French India.

Finally, French Polynesia (The Marquesas) should be on the map in the South Pacific, and the French should get a merchant fleet in 1884-1888. The French were active there, establishing a Protectorate in 1889.

The relative military strengths of the British and French Empires are not accurately simulated, in the sense that the French Army starts out much too small. The French army of 1880 was built to face the German Army. The Germans get two ten-factor armies, two 3's and two 1's. The French get a paltry 3 and two 1's. Meanwhile, the British overseas empire has a bigger army than France. This is completely unrealistic. France's army was a bit weaker than Germany's in 1880, but the game makes France's army weaker than Canada's and Australia's. This is ridiculous.

The French should start the game with a 10 Army in France. Her army in France was not the dinky Italian-sized thing she is given in the game.
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Rainer Kraft
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"....So, if a player simply reduces his treasury by 40 pounds quickly, moves a merchant into the Caribbean, puts down an Interest and then the Canal all in one two second sweep, he got the first canal, even if another player is trying to figure out when he is going to do it. Just like "slapjack", if you pay and get the marker down first, even a second before, you win the race. ...."


Sorry Vicomte13 it doesn't work that way. Building a canal requires that an established marker be in one of the canal zones during the Movement/Marker Placement Phase. So it comes down to the first player with an established marker to state that he/she is building a channel.
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Rainer Kraft
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"...A wise British player in the game will ally with the French on Turn one, and agree to go out there and divide up all the good spots as Condominia. The net effect of this will be that no combination of powers has the naval strength to stop the British, the British and French will get every good spot on the board, they may even both get the North South AND East West paths, and the French will be happy as clams, having built out their ENTIRE Empire on the best spaces. The British just have more markers, and once the French are done building, the British can just keep going and going. The world will be divvied up between the two. And the French won't build up a fleet (don't need it), so the British will never really be in danger of anybody being able to catch them). ..."


If a British player just shares everything with the French player he will lose! The VP divisor of 7 instead of 10 will see to that. The French have enough markers to place them in all CoD that are worthwhile. If the British has leftovers to place in the uneconomic ares even better for the French as it costs the British VP to do so!
And still during the first turn they both will not have enough money to prevent some smaller nation to build a protectorate in some 4-5 value area.
"..And the French won't build up a fleet (don't need it).."
Then why should the British divide with the French? Apparently they have nothing to offer!

Finally: You might mistake Pax Britannica for a war game. It is not. It is:
1. Economic Game
2. Diplomacy Game
3. War Game

in that order (in my opinion).
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Vicomte13 13
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Manimal wrote:


Sorry Vicomte13 it doesn't work that way. Building a canal requires that an established marker be in one of the canal zones during the Movement/Marker Placement Phase. So it comes down to the first player with an established marker to state that he/she is building a channel.


You're right about this one. I never noticed the point in the rules that the Influence or Control marker needs to be ESTABLISHED in order to build the Canal. So it's a two-turn affair.

Still, the point about the "first to say" stands. The Movement phase is real time, so whoever does something first, did it first.

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Vicomte13 13
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Manimal wrote:
"

If a British player just shares everything with the French player he will lose!


No, he will win. His 85 VP initial lead and the French marker limitation sees to that.

The British have 44 Dominion/Possession/Protectorate markers, and start out with 15 of them on the board.
If the game ended before it started, the British start with 85 Victory Points already in the bank.

The French, by contrast, only have 20 Possession/Protectorate markers, and four are placed on the board already. The French start out with 31VP.

Now, trace forward. The French and British can place the next 16 markers in condominium status on the next 16 valuable spaces.

Let's pick them, and remember that the condominium status reduces the value of the area:

Egypt: 7
Kongo: 7
Tangyanika: 6
Kenya: 5
Nigeria: 5
Indochina: 5
Morocco: 4
Tunis: 4
Eritrea: 4
Madagascar: 4
Kamerun: 4
Togo: 3
Somalia 1: 3
Somalia 2: 3
New Hebrides: 3
Bismarck Archipelago: 3

That's 16 provinces, all with condominia on them.
Assume all possessions.

The British get a total of 70 VP for this. Added to their starting totals, that gives them 157 VP for colonies...thus far.

The French get a total of 100 VP for this, added to their original 31, that's 131 VP.

The British are still ahead by 26 VP, and the French Empire is entirely built. But the British still have another 13 Control markers to place.

Also, the French can't get everwhere the British can.
The French only get two more Merchant Fleets. They will probably get next to Manchuria, but they will have to decide if they want to get next to Chile or Mexico, or if they want both, to give up the condominina in Oceania. The British can get next to more good spaces than the French can.

Even with the 2 VP per turn that the French get for a defensive alliance with the English, they only make up 20 VP if the game goes all the way to 10 turns, so they're still slightly behind the British assuming the British never place another control marker.

Besides, the French problem will be that they cannot keep up with even a very generous British player, because the placing of the condominia are not free. The French have to pay for the markers and buy the garrisons.

If the British decided, as a matter of policy starting turn 1, to grant the French condominia in the very best British colonies that are already established, and to grant them codominia in the new ones too, the French economy will only bear placing a couple of the Protectorate markers per turn alongside the British.

It will take the French many turns to catch up, and the British will still be out there colonizing the map. To place 16 Possession markers will cost the French 640L and take many turns.

The French would be crazy to do anything else, if the British offered this plus the 2VP per turn defensive alliance.

The British economic lead and fact that they can get next to places the French can't will outrun the French all the way until the end of the game.

Just play out the first turn.

Britain's economy starts out +37 (after garrison costs)
France's starts out +9 (after garrison costs)

Even if the British roll a 15 and the French roll a 45, what does this mean? It means that the British will have 52L and can put Protectorates in Egypt and Kongo (or Tangyanika, if the Belgians moved first), and can slap down "don't touch" Influence marker in Kenya). With the French firmly allied with the British (and maybe the Italians too - go ahead and give the Italians their 2 VP per turn for a little while), the Germans won't be able to stop anything. The British can stop the Germans from getting anything good, and has nothing to fear from anybody.

The French have 54L. And the British say to them: I will give you a Condominium in Canada and in Cape Town! And Alliance which gives you +2 VP per turn.

What French player in his right mind would pass that up?

So, the French do that, and have 14L left, at least 6 of which they'll need to spend on 1-factor Armies so they don't get hit with a big garrison cost on their new colonies.

Now look at next turn. The British economy has a big head of steam on now from the new provinces and getting the fleets home, and the French economy has grown a bit too, by 44. Next turn they'll be able to put down a few more Protectorates. Meanwhile, the British will be growing all across the world at a rate of as many Protectorates per turn as the French are growing by, and the Germans out of anything good.

The French are happy as clams, and the British are making hay while the sun shines. And so this continues. Britain promises the French condominia in Australia and New Zealand...after Turn 4 when the French can finally get there.

Remember, the British have a Dominion in Canada, which (at a reduced condominium value of 8) will give them 8 VP at game end. But the French only have a protectorate, which will only give them 9 VP at game end. And the French have to spend 40L to get there.

What this strategy does is essentially make France a Dominion of Britain, kills them with kindness, gives them co-ownership of the best possessions in the world...and runs them out of economic steam while the British gobble up the globe.

France won't be able to win this game, ultimately.
They also won't be able to resist the British offer.

What it gives the British is the guarantee of peace, the guarantee of naval supremacy over the Germans, and a free hand in Africa.

Play it out mathematically and you'll see it.

Sure, if the British get a Liberal Victory every turn and the French get Anti-German agitators every turn, the French may be able to catch up, but if we assume a normal Colonial Office average for the two countries of 25 per turn, the British never lose their lead. The French catch up, but they don't pass them.

The Italians become the biggest "spoiler" threats in such a game, actually.

Also, once the French are in condominia like that, all over the map, they really CAN'T turn on the British without losing it all.

And they won't. They'll cooperate, figure the VP divisor will give them the win, see themselves catching up, but fall short in the end.

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Warren Bruhn
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Manimal wrote:

If a British player just shares everything with the French player he will lose! The VP divisor of 7 instead of 10 will see to that. The French have enough markers to place them in all CoD that are worthwhile.


That has been my experience recently. A few months ago our local gang played a 5 player game followed by a 6 player game. In both games Britain took the largest share of the best territory, but allowed France to get territory of too high a value. Both times France won, and Britain was not even in the top three in the 5 player game. France doesn't look that strong, but has some victory potential.
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Rainer Kraft
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VIcomte13 wrote:

...
Let's pick them, and remember that the condominium status reduces the value of the area:

Egypt: 7
Kongo: 7
Tangyanika: 6
Kenya: 5
Nigeria: 5
Indochina: 5
Morocco: 4
Tunis: 4
Eritrea: 4
Madagascar: 4
Kamerun: 4
Togo: 3
Somalia 1: 3
Somalia 2: 3
New Hebrides: 3
Bismarck Archipelago: 3

That's 16 provinces, all with condominia on them.
Assume all possessions.

...


Vicomte, even if we forget the not-in-the-original-rules rule that a CoD reduces the value by 1 for each party above one it is economically not in a parties best interest to build possession CoD in value 3 areas.
Establishing that posession costs 40 pounds which is 4VP (Britain) and 5 5/7VP for the French. Per turn the province costs each power 5 pounds which translates to 1/2 VP (Britain) and 5/7 VP (french).
On the positive side the province will net 30/VPD at games end which translates to 3VP (Britain) and 4 2/7 VP for the French. So even if build in the last turn without ever having to pay maintenance such possessions are costing you VP! As you can see there are enough control markers for the French because there are not enough good, available, accessible provinces on the map.
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Rainer Kraft
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VIcomte13 wrote:
...

The French have 54L. And the British say to them: I will give you a Condominium in Canada and in Cape Town! And Alliance which gives you +2 VP per turn.

...


From the rule book
". .....(a State or Dominion cannot be part of a Co-dominion)...."
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