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Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 14 Jul 2017, 13:34
by Guns of Brixton
Big Gun wrote:I've just posted a photo of our team, with their PlayDip usernames here:

It was a great honour gentlemen!

Just looked at the site and it says 'attachment unavailable' and something about needing permission to view your post.

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 14 Jul 2017, 14:07
by Big Gun
Hey Guns, I'm not sure if you have to join the group on Facebook first. No idea. Is there a way to post a photograph here in the Forum?

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 14 Jul 2017, 14:23
by Nanook
Big Gun wrote:Hey Guns, I'm not sure if you have to join the group on Facebook first. No idea. Is there a way to post a photograph here in the Forum?

Upload attachment button, immediately below the message field. Choose file>select your file and hit open>Add the file. That will post it as an attachment.

If it's an image that's online and has an URL, you can paste the URL into the message field, highlight the URL, and hit the "img" button, which is one of the buttons right above the message field.

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 15 Jul 2017, 04:27
by Carebear
Thanks GPD, prgm, and WarSmith for posting to the thread. I wanted to wait until Big Gun, Buachaille, Jack007, and thewysecat posted. But, I will post here this weekend.

I will also address this mistaken belief that prgm had that apparently scared asudevil, Machiara, and probably others.

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 15 Jul 2017, 09:36
by Strategus

Thought it worth putting a link to the WDC official photos.

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 15 Jul 2017, 14:04
by Carebear
Questions About FtF v Online
Conq wrote:For folks who have played a lot of online diplomacy and who had to adjust to ftf diplomacy for the WDC, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the following:

I will leave this mostly to the seven other PlayDip participants as I don't think this really applies to me. Looks like we are still waiting for responses from the others, but I finally just freed up a bit myself. :?

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 09:40
by WarSmith
Conq wrote:For folks who have played a lot of online diplomacy and who had to adjust to ftf diplomacy for the WDC, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the following:

(1) What were the differences and challenges of playing in person?
(2) What surprised you about the face-to-face game?
(3) What did you carry with you during the games? (Pen and paper, tablet, map, etc). Is there anything you would change about how you took notes or kept track of the game?
(4) How did the tournament setting, 1910 cutoff, and scoring impact the game?
(5) If you are an unknown newcomer, how did that impact your games? Was it an advantage or a disadvantage to be an unknown?

1) Time limitations. It changes how you speak to others and the pressure to get orders in is intense.
2) I was surprised how small the number of elite players was - there were lots of hobbyists there also, which was very reassuring.
3) Nothing at all. Only my wits and my NLP training ;)
4) The setting was great - lots of space to go off and talk to people - there were a few sneaky types who would try to listen in, or come and interrupt, watch you write orders etc. one of the worst actually made it to the top table!
1910 cutoff and scoring system really made a big impact. Many were clearly playing for points. Long-term alliances were kindoff pointless - and people stabbed for single centers to e.g. Stay one ahead of an ally so they could top the board.
5) Had to put effort into 'getting to know' the better players. One actually said to me 'I don't know you' - so you have to have a quick and able story to reassure them that you're going to be someone worth talking to! I found the best players (who knew each other were also open to working with others, the metagaming annoyance came from other little groups of the hobbyist variety, I found - especially if they'd travelled there. One gamer from another European country found this fact much harder than me when he found himself surrounded by three Americans who knew each other, but I kind of found when talking to him that maybe he'd made more of an issue of it than the facts suggested - and that it had clouded his judgement a bit...

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 13:23
by Buachaille
I'm going to brazenly steal GPD's subject headings as I think his expansion on Conq's initial questions does a really good job of covering the relevant topics. Cheers G ;)

1. Equipment I have to thank Nanook for giving me a heads up about the water bottle thing, it is essential. I also took lots of sweets to sweeten breath and the deal and a 'bribey' hip flask full of single malt (a lot of fekin good they did me). I used a pen and notebook with tear out pages to write my orders but as has been mentioned, proformas were provided and a lot of people used these. Unlike GPD, I think the tablet or phone thing is the way to go. I really liked being able to refer to the board when discussing specifics away from the board. As a relatively inexperienced player you could tell the real experienced players just had it all photographically stored in their massive brains though and an image of the same information helped balance out that disparity.

2. The Setting (& the organisers) I cannae rave aboot this enough. Daniel and Sinead were incredible, the quintessential hosts with the most and as such had organised the perfect setting. The gala dinner I'm unlikely to ever forget and we had our breakfast every morning in the same Harry Potter-esque great hall, casually populated by the occasional astrophysicist and us nerds. Even the porters were intellectuals, what a place and they'd had even arranged the sun to shine.

3. The 1910 game limit This has huge effect on the nature of the gameplay that I completely overlooked in advance. No longer can you think about the game in the same way, it means that every centre is clawed for right from the outset, momentum is much more crucial and sitting waiting for others to make a move is much less viable. When combined with the scoring system it led to a very different dynamic, I thought.

4. The 15 minute deadlines (and all the other mechanical differences from my online experience) So in 15mins you've got to write your units down (do this religiously at the start of each turn without fail), think what you want to do (write down the moves you're sure of in advance too), negotiate with everyone on the board and then write down any moves that were dependent on those negotiations. Add to this; adjudication and winter adjustments time comes directly out of those 15 minute turns, the turns getting shorter post 1905 (when your units and hence workload gets more) and the 1910 time limit and quickly becomes apparent that not only is it impossible to negotiate with everyone every turn but there's little point as the game won't get that far. Mix in the fact there's no negotiation over retreats, builds or destroys and you're starting to get a very different feel to the game. Snap decisions based on instinct lend themselves to quicker thinkers, not ponderous old gits (I think you know who I'm talking about).

In my first game I drew Austria and nerves, the increased workload due to position, some early success (hence more units to think about) and some impressive vacillation about what to do led to a complete clusterfek of scored out scribbles and hieroglyphs, a masterpiece of misorders over the spring and fall. Don't be that guy. Get organised.

5. The scoring system This is obviously designed to exaggerate the differences that will arise between the players in the foreshortened game time which is fair enough. Gone is anyone worrying about how many people are included in the draw, five and six way draws proliferate and all that matters is how many centres you have. It probably shouldn't have felt as different as it did but it did.

6. Stabs and Alliances For me, a huge part of this game (online) is getting a read on the other players you share the board with, are they soloist or carebear, how do they prefer to play, how they will react to your play etc. It's possible to garner all this from written communication over a generous turn schedule. As a new player in the tournament, all this is out the window. Other than that, I'd be hard pushed to see much difference it trends of stabs or alliances between FtF and online play. You'd think, given the 1910 time limit and scoring system, that there might be more forgiveness over single centre stabs but I still saw plenty of adverse reactions.

7. Meta-Gaming The key here is, is it any different from online play? I'd say not except that there is a smaller player pool. Are people who've played in a reliable alliance with someone they know more likely to trust that person over someone they've never met before? Of course, it's human nature, whether online or FtF. However the chances that the FtF players have met each other before is greater because of the smaller pool. This not's to say it's not a two-edged sword. The chances there's bad history between players too is also greater. In four games, I encountered once a situation where I didn't feel that anything I said would make a difference to a existing relationship.

8. Being a newcomer Has it's pros and cons. However, work very hard to appear to know what you're talking about as newbishness (as opposed to simply being a newcomer) will be leapt upon in an unforgiving fashion. This includes referring to things that apply in online play that don't in FtF.

9. Surprises
a. I was also hugely surprised by how just how exhausting the whole thing was. Two games in one day, the second lasting till 1am and then a modest amount of whisky afterwards to unwind, still being unable to sleep immediately and then being up early for another game the next morning was killer. I think fatigue will have played a big roll in Sunday's results and probably a share of Saturday night's too (unless like mine, people were still vying for a place on the final board till 1am).
b. It caught me out how reliant I'd become on PlayDip easy map and colouring system to read the board at a glance. Neutrals and conquered SCs changing colour is a beautiful thing but a luxury I missed.
c. I'm a slow learner with a leaden brain and it shouldn't have surprised me how much I struggled to make the transition to FtF but it did. The desire to put in a more respectable performance might well be a major motivating factor in doing it all again.

10. My highlights (in no particular order)
a. Meeting Playdippers - these fine folk made the weekend, without them it'd have been and entirely different affair
b. Playing my first ever F2F game against a former world champion (and still the only one to have soloed in the finals) and another former world champ in a later game and surviving both
c. Food and drinks with new friends. Make sure you're included in the group that goes to lunch from your board ;)
d. The community. It really was a hugely welcoming, massively interesting bunch of people. By the end of the weekend I knew the names of around fifty more people who I was happy to stop and chat with, ask how they were gettting on.
e. The venue, and organization of the tournament. I spoke to so many people that said it was their favourite tournament ever. Thanks again to Dan & Sinead and everyone else involved for organising.

PS. I think I must undoubtedly give special thanks to Carebear. Without his encouragement I widnae have bothered my arse to make the effort. The work he's put in encouraging FtF players into the ODC tournament and online players into playing FtF can only be to the benefit of the game as a whole. Kudos due.

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 14:46
by WarSmith
You're forgetting to mention the fantastic award handed to you!
Everyone's favourite player :)
And we were all so proud of you for that!

Re: WDC 2017: AAR and General Impressions

PostPosted: 17 Jul 2017, 01:22
by Jack007
My turn to tell about the WDC2017 now. I agree with the others that the event was perfectly organized by Dan Lester and his Crew. The setting at the St John's College was stunning, as is Oxford a great city, too, full of marvelous architecture, young people, music, lively nightlife. Especially the Americans were impressed by the amount of historic buildings.

Inside the college the atmosphere was very relaxed. I met many interesting diplomacy players, all of which very kind. And it was cool to get to know the faces behind the usernames as well as those behind the authors names of many strategy articles I had read during the years. In fact I have never seen so many diplomacy players at one place together. They came from the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, USA, Canada, Taiwan, Israel, Iran (I think), Down Under, and I'm sure there were more countries even. From the moment of arrival till my depart from Oxford I had a really great time. This included not only the games, but also the side program.

As for the games it is clear, like everywhere, that practice and experience are the most important factors for success, and with practice I mean FtF games. Playing twice a year FtF is simply not enough to keep pace with the top players. No matter your online experience, because there is a big difference between online vs FtF, I am going to explain below.

Accordingly, my performance was not good enough. My first game as Russia was terminated very early as I tried something risky, believing England against Germany and Turkey against Austria, but was stabbed consequently. In the second game, as England, I did better, found a good ally in Germany (Laurent Joly), was for a long time on top of the board with 8 centers, after stabbing France and taking StP, but finally Turkey (Alex Lebedev) stabbed on Austria (Tom Haver?) and Russia (Don del Grande) which brought him 4 centers in addition to his 5 and he ended top with 9, while Germany and I had each 7 as a shared second place. My third game as Italy ended with 2 centers (Tunis and Naples), after a turbulent game, with many changing alliances, thanks of Turkey (played by Moritz Am Ende, a German guy from the Ludomaniac scene) who had not the courage to stab Russia while it was time, then stabbed me, then re-allied with me against France (Rob Kinsey), who himself stabbed everyone including me :) (after I saved him against Tanja Gill as England) and finished with 5 centers despite upsetting everyone on the board. At the end it was again a stab in 1908 by Russia (Nicholas Sahuguet) against Turkey which brought the decision. Anyway, a great game. Sunday, the team game, I hoped to correct my poor first game (as the better three of the four games were counted), but of no avail, as Austria I was just meat for the three surrounding countries and I was not able to find an ally and was dead in 1903. So nothing won and nothing lost with that game. At the end I had to be content with my rank in the lower third of the tableau. Could have been worse :)

Well, what are the differences to the games at Playdip?

The pace. 15 minutes per turn (including retreats and builds) is very fast, you have no time to reflect or correct your faults. Once you have to leave your initial strategy, you might hang a bit in the empty space and maybe rely on luck. Here is where experience come into play, in the sense that you might feel the right way, instead of trying it with rationality.

The rules. The games last till fall 1910, and the result is always a center count. This leads to a different game. Almost inevitably, there is a major stab in 1908/early 1909, and your game consists of just preparing this stab, or trying to prevent it, but often you cannot do anything because the stab happens on the other side of the board where your influence is limited. The player who successfully stabbed himself to the board's top normally proposes a "draw" directly following his coup. But in fact it is not a draw, as the center count still effects. In reality the poll is only about to stop the game before 1910, if all agree by a secret ballot.

So these are huge differences to the real standard Diplomacy. A solo is extremely rare, draws are not possible, and centers are counted (which is not part of the original diplomacy game at all, except for the magic 18 of course). Long time alliances are rare, kingmaking is not existent, stalemate lines are not important. I would go so far to say that this is not the classic Diplomacy, but just a variant, like many other variants. Therefore it's wrong to name it "Diplomacy World Championship", it's only a championship of this variant.

But it was great fun anyway. :)

A word about metagaming. Metagaming is not an issue there, it simply plays no role. They don't care about metagaming, I have even repeatedly heard things in the sense like: "I have got a good board, my friend XY plays, too, he will be my ally..". This wasn't looked to be cheated. One could say that here they are closer to Calhamer's Diplomacy than we are at Playdiplomacy, as the game has been designed as a family board game, and naturally you know the family members respectively your friends very well, and you have your sympathies. We should not forget that anonymous games and no-grudge-policy are relatively young elements in the history of Diplomacy, and have in no way been part of the original game.

Anyway. My conclusion after Oxford is that I want to play more FtF again, after years of neglecting this way of playing the game. Be it in tournaments or just playing for fun doesn't matter. Even one could consider to organize "real" Diplomacy World Championships, not only of a variant. Possibly this would need an event longer than 3 days, though 3 games could maybe do the job, if well organized and with an appropriate ranking system. I think one full game per day is possible. Or why not extend the championships to one week? I would be willing to engage in organizing such if others feel similar about this subject.

Finally, I want to say thank you to all who have helped this event to become unforgettable, and this includes probably everyone there, be it players, organizers, playdippers, Spark junkies, allies and stabbers, and also the lady from the breakfast table at the Mansfield College who will probably never read this posting.