POG Tourney December 2017 Update


Another month has gone by and the fighting is as furious as ever!  We’ve just in the first phase of Round  4 and it appears the game pace is almost TWICE as fast as prior rounds.  At this stage of the tourney most people are trying to avoid elimination from the event and there is no more ‘casual’ play – it’s all serious business now.
We started with twenty-six matches and already have outcomes recorded for two games; more than half the matches are at turn eight or later with one match already at turn 19.  We’re going to seriously look at reducing the durations of Round 5 and later by a couple of weeks based on the frenetic play we’re currently seeing.  The most important outcome, at least from the GM perspective, is that there will be a lot less nagging of players regarding game pace.  You’re welcome.
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PBEM Tip of the Month:  POG Card Counting
For those of you seeking every edge possible, I strongly recommend that you track cards during your matches.  You may be asking yourself “why bother?”, here are some reasons:
    • You will get insights into what possible card draws you will be getting.  Longer term, you can determine EXACTLY what cards you will have and plan accordingly!  It’s nice to know things like the earliest turn you’ll draw “Fall of the Tsar”.  Or the latest turn.
    • More importantly, you will get insights into your opponent’s hand!  It’s not uncommon at all to know what the bulk of your opponent’s cards are and to be able to plan around that.  For example, if they only have one 4-OPs card in the mid-to late game, you can almost guarantee that it will be played as an RP and you can probably figure out what he’s going to be doing that turn.
    • Knowing the possibility (or likelihood) of a card like Grand Fleet, High Seas Fleet, or Kemal being available can be very helpful for planning your move.

Unless you have perfect recall and an intimate knowledge of all the cards, you need a process to accomplish this; the following is how I do it using separate “piles” of cards for each side.  This can be done using the physical cards or within VASSAL, spreading the cards out on the electronic map.

  • Piles 1 & 2 (WAITING):  Cards that have not entered the game.  This will include your Limited War and Total War card sets, respectively.  These cards will be consolidated into other piles as the appropriate war statuses are reached.
  • Pile 3 (OUT):  Cards that are out of the game.  This consists of cards played as events.
  • Pile 4 (DRAW):  Cards that are in the draw deck.  This consists of cards that are in the game but haven’t been played since the last shuffle.
  • Pile 5 (DISCARDS):  Cards that are discarded.  This consists of cards that have been played as anything but events since the last shuffle.
  • Pile 6 (HAND):  Cards in a players’ hand.  Obviously you will know what’s in your own hand, I’d recommend just counting out, facedown, cards from your opponent’s “4” pile.  If you know a card that’s in your opponent’s hand, put it in this pile FACE UP.
As cards get seen or used, place them into the appropriate pile.  When you see an opponent’s card get played, make sure you adjust the piles appropriately.  (For example, if he plays Convoy as OPs:  Find that card in pile 4 or 6 and put it into pile 5.  If Convoy was in pile 4, take a card from pile 6 and put it into pile 4 to ensure his hand card pile is aligned with the game reality.)
Eventually, when you to the latter half of the game, you’ll have fantastic visibility into hands.  This can help you make decisions like “should I discard Grand Fleet” or “will he be able to get that final US army into the game”.
POG Tactics:  Bring in the Yud!
Usage of the Russian CAU reinforcement I’ve often viewed as a mindless action, not meriting much thought or reflection.  A few games against some very experienced players cured me of that thinking.  Yudenitch is an event that is best prepared for; wielded at the right time, it can thoroughly cramp CP play.
The first thing to think about is deciding to actually play the event.  Some lines of AP play forgo playing 4-OPs cards in order to develop a ‘richer’ deck at the end.  The Yudenitch event card is NOT one of those cards!  Let me repeat, barring some other immediate game-winning move, you do not hold back on bringing him in!  If you have two Russian reinforcement Army cards you might have a tough decision but otherwise the decision is really a matter of WHEN.  Some timing thoughts:
  • It’s good to bring the Yud after a CP SR play.  That will hamper his reaction and force an OPs play.
  • It’s GREAT to bring the Yud after you’ve played Cloak and Dagger so that you know whether or not Kemal is available to the CP that turn.
  • Sequence this reinforcement within your turn in an appropriate way that allows you to maintain the initiative.  For example, if you have a BR army reinforcement you want to get in this turn, play YUD AFTER that BR reinforcement event.  There are numerous follow-ons to YUD coming in that don’t involve a passive play like an event.
  • Sometimes you benefit by bringing YUD in late in the turn because you’ll have seen some CP plays that might indicate whether or not Kemal is available.
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The next thing to consider about the event is WHERE to place the army.  Here are some thoughts:
  • Kars is the most common location.  That immediately threatens the linchpin of the Turkish defense in this region, Erzerum.  The downside is that, even if SRing isn’t an option, the Turks can bring TUc’s from Mosul and Ankara into that defensive position.  Another factor to consider is whether the Erzerum position was already reinforced by the CP, if so, Kars is probably not appropriate unless you know he doesn’t have Kemal and you previously brought in another RUc into Kars.
  • Batum is the next spot to consider – and is currently my favorite for reasons I’ll now explain.  When Yud shows up there, the natural CP response is to retreat the TUc in Rize (via OPs or SR) into the Trebizond fort.  My AP response in the next round is to move CAU to Kars which will often retain the initiative as the CP must again respond.  (To head this off, the CP will have had to reinforce/retreat Rize AND reinforce Erzerum in his initial response.)
  • Finally, there is a slower play involving an initial deployment of CAU to Erivan.  The followup move is to move CAU to Eleskirt where he can threaten two TU positions.  I’m not a fan of this move as I think it is too “slow” a move.  Another line of strategy springing from this deployment is to send CAU south to support an attack on Baghdad, supported by BRc’s coming out of Basra, but it will be rare if the CP can’t get a stream of reinforcements down there in time to stuff this assault.
Finally, it’s worth detailing WHAT one is trying to accomplish with YUD:
  • Ideally, YUD crushes the Turkish corps in front of it and drives forward in a way that will collapse the Turkish lines to the south.  Dreams of Constantinople are fine, but recognize the AP will need to have a lot of RUc’s and maybe even BRc’s supporting that kind of a campaign.  And it’s still not likely to happen against an experienced CP player.
  • Meanwhile, in the real world, you’ll have to be more constrained in your CAU-inspired visions.  Near term, you want to maintain the YUD force long enough to gain synergies with Allenby once he shows on the scene.  If there is even a 50% chance of flipping YUD, I will not attack with him.  Instead, I might dig with him or otherwise just move in a manner aimed at forcing a reaction.
  • Long term, YUD is useful when attacking when you have an attack marker on Allenby AND Yud.  Resolve the Allenby assault first, assuming an AP win there is more significant than an AP win with Yud.   The CP will have some tough decisions to make and the AP can always choose to NOT attack with YUD if he senses the CP is withholding Kemal to force a YUD flip.  If Russia seems destined to fall, you’ll want to make sure you save Baku so get that Tbilisi trench dug before you have the guns of the AOI or YLD armies facing you.
  • Above all, recognize that bringing in the Caucasus army is an initiative stealing event.  Don’t waste it!  Played correctly, it can definitely force the CP to suspend some of his other plans for the turn.
The focus of this analysis was on the initial usage of the Yudenitch event which is but one part of the Near East game-within-a-POG-game.  Use the Yud wisely and he can play a big part in bringing WW1 to a victorious close for the AP.
November Puzzle:
Last month’s POG conundrum involved a FR counterattack on a German stack in Chateau Thierry.
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The first question was aimed at identifying the mathematical likelihood of the attack permanently destroying the German armies.  Matt J. was the first, and only, person that got this right.  The math worked out to 10.19%, derived by combining the 1-space-retreat % for a successful flank and the 1-space-retreat % for a failed flank.
The second question related to supply warnings.  When the CP player moved into CT, the AP was under no obligation to issue a supply warning as the threat required a combat advance.  If a 5 LF were inflicted on the AP, thus opening up a hole in his line in Melun or BLD, the question then arises as to whether the CP can immediately take advantage of it.  The answer is an emphatic yes, and numerous puzzle respondents nailed this one correctly.  Again, usage of default supply warnings is driven by movement triggered OOS situations.  (For those paying attention, you’ll recognize that this counter-attack has a terrible risk to reward ratio; it’s highly likely that the AP losing the battle and taking 5 loss factors is going to result in a quick knockout of France.)
December Puzzle:  “What’s One Reason”
In lieu of some brain-bending math, here are some Near East tactical questions, responses should be no longer than one sentence for each situation.
  1. The TUc in Damascus is often moved to Beersheba to form a solid line facing Egypt.  What’s one reason you’d prefer to use an SR of another TUc rather than move that Damascus corps?
  2. You’re in the last quarter of the game and the NE is stable with a smattering of BU and GE corps on that front.  What’s one reason why the AP should bring in a BRc to Basra on their next SR?
  3. The AP is contemplating invading at MEF2 vs MEF3.  What’s one reason selecting one might be preferable to the other?
  4. The AP often starts his NE campaign by bringing in a BRc to Egypt to threaten the Beersheba fort.  What’s one reason why the destination should be Cairo instead of Port Said?
  5. The CP will sometimes bring a TUc into Aqaba to support his Beersheba position.  What’s one reason why this is done?
And that’s it for this month, see you next time in the New Year!
Your GMs,
Michael Dauer
Tom Gregorio
Paul Hubbard