For/ against draws

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Re: For/ against draws

Postby Jack007 » 18 Jul 2020, 15:55

David, you may discuss whatever you want. But you won't change the fact that you are such an extreme Romantic (of Windsor), that you don't content yourself with a statement to be a romantic, no.. you go and publish your urge in an article where you call all other ways to play Diplomacy as minor, and yourself as THE high quality player, without any evidence why Soloism should be better (so, in fact it is just a manifest). You are almost a caricature of the Romantic in Windsor's article.

Anyway, what I learned - after almost 50 years of playing Diplomacy - is, that whoever tells me how a "real Diplomacy player" has to be, is wrong.
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby David E. Cohen » 18 Jul 2020, 16:30

Though I played my first game of Dip only 40 years ago, I doubt an additional 10 years will change my mind. You mischaracterize the (very preachy, I admit) discussion in the Soloist Manifesto, and I have come to the conclusion that this mischaracterization is not accidental or the result of ignorance. I will contrast Romanticism and Soloism in a subsequent post.
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby Custer » 18 Jul 2020, 16:38

LOL......I think we need to get out the dueling pistols......somebody needs a white glove slap and a challenge!

I'd pay good money for a ring side seat to this sporting event......LoL

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Re: For/ against draws

Postby jay65536 » 18 Jul 2020, 17:45

I don't have time for a long post now, but I agree almost entirely with David's first post in the thread.

David, I learned long ago never to give Jack oxygen. He's trolling intentionally. Anyone who actually understands what Soloism and Romanticism are should know the difference between a Soloist and a Romantic.

In case the OP doesn't: the idea that you might want to ban draws is a "Romantic" notion. And an absurd one. As David points out, sometimes games naturally settle into a draw even when everyone is playing to win.
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby condude1 » 18 Jul 2020, 17:53

i always play for the best option available to me. I have an extensive chess background, so I view a 2-way as 50% of a win, a 3-way as 33% etc. One of my prouder wins was forcing a 4-way draw from a position where I had 2 scs left and no chance of ever recovering a home sc (my two scs were Moscow and Berlin and I was England IIRC). I masterminded a unique stalemate line that happened to make one of my units an integral defender. That's a beautiful end to a diplomacy game, and as much of a win as any solo I've gotten.

For me at least, the draw is a fallback. It's a great goal for weaker powers to have, and a fine fallback for stronger powers to concede if need be. Solo-only sounds depressing for weak countries.

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Re: For/ against draws

Postby Jack007 » 18 Jul 2020, 17:53

jay65536 wrote:I don't have time for a long post now, but I agree almost entirely with David's first post in the thread.
...


Jay, it's irrelevant with what you agree almost entirely.
Because you are trolling intentionally.

Jack :evil:
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby David E. Cohen » 18 Jul 2020, 18:24

Jay, I am aware that it is not a good idea to feed the troll. But my discussion here is not for his benefit. It is for people who are not familiar with Soloism, especially impressionable newbies. I do not want his mischaracterizations to go unchallenged.

The sections of Paul Windsor's article pertaining to Romanticism are set forth here in red. My comments contrasting Soloism are interspersed, in black.

The Romantic

The Romantic cares about winning. Period. To the Romantic, the purpose of playing games is to win them. No more. No less. He is unlikely to recognize any other goal as legitimate, much less important. The Romantic will often view Diplomacy as a game of conquest and is the most likely to take the contest to a personal level. Romantics occasionally role play, but seldom take it very seriously. The adoption of a persona, but without any serious masquerade or dramatic follow-through, is a Romantic tendency.


A Soloist cares about winning because it is the object of the game. Other goals may be worth pursuing, as long as the do not interfere with pursuit of the main goal. And a Soloist takes each game seriously even when there is no longer any chance of a victory. A solo is 'valuable' and should not be given away to another player lightly. They should be forced to earn it, so that a solo retains its value. Taking things to a "personal level" is fine, as long as it does not interfere with optimal play. Likewise, role playing is a tool which a Soloist will employ if the Soloist concludes that roleplaying will increase the probability of victory.

Romantics disdain draws and conservative play. They're risk takers who don't mind the downside because tomorrow is another game. Risk-taking is often enough successful in Diplomacy that this Romantic habit is reinforced by intermittent reward, especially when the failed risk is deemed an inconsequential event. Romantics are squarely on the "cutthroat" side of that great style debate and are often quick to label play which is conservative as "carebear" play.

Soloists do not disdain draws. They just strive to avoid them, since they are not the object of the game. Risk taking is often preferable to increase the chance of a solo, but sometimes conservative play is what is necessary. A Soloist will adapt their style of play to the specific in game situation. I personally am very conservative by nature. I often have to metaphorically poke at myself to take risks in order to submit an optimum set of orders.

Consistent with minimizing the pain of failed risk-taking, the Romantic who finds himself in a losing position often adopts what I call the "Shooting Star" strategy. The Romantic won't be happy for long grinding out a losing position, and the word "draw" is typically anethma to him, so he often seeks to quickly immolate himself in favor of another player. Bereft of the possibility of personal victory, the Romantic takes his satisfaction in trying to use his power to secure the victory of another. This is the "Kingmaker" rationalization for a suicidal strategy leading to the quick death that the Romantic was seeking anyway.

A Soloist will 'grind away' as long as necessary. A long losing struggle often serves to sharpen strategic, tactical and negotiation skills. The grind can also sometimes lead to unexpected success. After all, if you are not playing, you have no chance at winning. That said, kingmaking/game throwing, what Paul Windsor calls a "Shooting Star strategy" is an occasionally useful tactic to stop a solo or to discourage draw whittling, which is a waste of the Soloist's valuable playing time. A draw in and of itself, is not anathema to a Soloist. It is merely an outcome which is a failure of the Soloist (and the other players) to achieve the object of the game.

Romantics will almost always tell you that they prefer FTF play. When playing by email they tend to gravitate to to the non-Judge enclaves, but whether they are truly the majority in those enclaves is debatable. [I think that there are probably more Club Players in the enclaves.] There are plenty of Romantics to be found in Judge play and my estimation is that they are as large a percentage of Judge players as Classicists. Romantics vary in their regard for ratings, but they are often quick to criticize the current ratings systems for giving too much weight to draws and not enough to solo victories. Dyed in the wool Romantics have a weakness for assuming that everyone has, or should have, the same predisposition to the game as themselves and can't understand why others even want to play for draws at all. This is a different attitude than the puritanical ardent Classicist in that the ardent Romantic simply can't comprehend why anyone plays a game for any purpose other than winning it.

I can't speak for Soloists generally as to any preference for FTF, but I have not played FTF since the 1980's. I have a distaste for all the rating systems I am aware of, since they unduly encourage draws and discourage players from playing to achieve the object of the game, a solo. This tends to make games less exciting and consequently, less enjoyable. I can understand why people play for draws. That doesn't mean that they should be! :lol: I sometimes do so myself, when there is no longer a realistic chance of winning.

The Romantic Playing Pattern

The Romantic playing pattern is most likely to involve playing for conquest. If the Classicist is the "draw-monger" then the Romantic is the "war-monger". The Romantic typically approaches early game alliances in terms of offering one neighbor the opportunity to gang up on and destroy another neighbor. Romantics tend to focus more on maximizing personal growth, regardless of what alliances nominally exist at the moment, and eliminating rival powers (usually in that order). Since the contest is between rival armies (in the Romantic view), then success is measured by growing the size of your own military and reducing your opponents' to ashes.


This is sometimes true of Soloists, but often not. Strategy and tactics must be flexible, attuned to the particular game, and subservient to the overall goal of winning. I actually have a preference for long lasting alliances. I also, all other things being equal (and they never are), prefer not to eliminate any Powers. Eliminating a Power, more likely than not, will simplify the tactical and diplomatic situation. This tends to make draws more likely. Complexity is often the friend of the Soloist. The more complex the tactical and diplomatic situation is, the more likely a tactically and diplomatically skilled Soloist will be able to exploit the situation.

In the early game (and even in the not so early game), the Romantic seeks alliances as eagerly as the Classicist, and for essentially the same reason. Both players know that strong alliances represent an advantage over non-allied players. The difference between the two is that the Romantic is much more inclined to think of his ally as a rival power throughout the term of the alliance. Whereas the Classicist is encouraged to continue an alliance by it's success, the Romantic is encouraged by success to stab his ally, lest that ally become too powerful a rival. Romantics tend to prefer Club Players or Classicists for allies, and after that, fellow Romantics and Deviates in that order. These preferences are based on the Romantic's impression that Classicists and Club Players are more easily duped into leaving themselves open for a stab within the context of an alliance. This is a failing that Romantics and Deviates rarely indulge, so they're less preferable as allies for the Romantic.

Of course the other players are rivals. That is the point of the game. There is no such thing as a shared win, unless you are playing in a weird variant or a team tournament. A Soloist will continue the alliance for as long as continuation tends to increase the chance of victory more than ending the alliance. This can be much longer than one might assume, even game long.

The Romantic loves the one center grab ("if you don't protect it, it doesn't belong to you"), the pre-emptive stab ("you were getting too big") and the stab of frustration ("we were getting bogged down and I hate going two years without growing"). The player allied with the Romantic in the beginning of a game can bet the farm that, if the alliance is successful, he'll become the Romantic's second target. When calculating stabs, the Romantic gives minimum value to positional considerations and maximum value to doing damage to potential power rivals. The Romantic has a strong preference for eliminating weak powers and ganging up on the middling powers in the middle game, as he always has a strong focus on reducing the number of players at the board. By the time he gets to 10 SCs (if he's been successful) he has generally dispensed with anything other than one-turn alliances. In the Romantic's view, long term alliances and failing to eliminate players when the opportunity occurs are "carebear" play.

One center grabs and pre-emptive stabs are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. They can be good ideas or bad ideas, depending on the context of the game. Frustration is an emotion which needs to be controlled, so that it does not interfere with optimal play. As to eliminating weak Powers, I have previously discussed this, but again, it all depends upon whether the elimination will increase the chances of victory in the particular game.

Win or lose, the Romantic is consistent in his view that the game is a power struggle. A Romantic who is losing will very often try to flame out as a Shooting Star, seeking to throw his centers to the most "deserving" of his rivals. If it's late in the game, a Romantic who is a minor or waning power often thinks it is not merely his right, but his obligation, to attempt to throw the game to someone. Since the Romantic view is that vitory is best, then even the victory of another is to be preferred to a personal share of a draw. This is a strategy which other player stylists often find as incomprehensible and deeply frustrating as the Romantic is confused and frustrated by anyone who admits to an in-game goal other than winning.

Of course the game is a power struggle. The object of the game is to win. Unless something really weird is going on, that involves taking dots from other players who do not want to give them up. As previously mentioned, kingmaking/game throwing is an occasionally useful tactic. But a draw is often preferable to victory by another player, since a Soloist will want to make soloing a challenge, preserving its value. A Soloist, however, does not place significantly more value in a draw than in losing, so other players must be mindful of the Soloist's willingness to employ such tactics. These conflicting philosophical lines of thought are together a tightrope that a Soloist is perfectly willing to walk.



I think Soloists, the good ones anyway, are much more disciplined than Romantics. The play of each is sometimes superficially similar, since both are willing to take great risks for great rewards. But the rationale for the play is very different. For Soloists, the style of play must be subservient to the overall goal. That said, having several Soloists on a board often means a fluid, tactically complex and exciting game where the players 'let it all hang out'.

Teddy Roosevelt said it more eloquently than me. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." [italics mine]
Last edited by David E. Cohen on 18 Jul 2020, 18:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby David E. Cohen » 18 Jul 2020, 18:26

Custer wrote:LOL......I think we need to get out the dueling pistols......somebody needs a white glove slap and a challenge!

I'd pay good money for a ring side seat to this sporting event......LoL

Custer

:twisted:


I would prefer sabers, rather than pistols.
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby David E. Cohen » 18 Jul 2020, 18:44

condude1 wrote:i always play for the best option available to me. I have an extensive chess background, so I view a 2-way as 50% of a win, a 3-way as 33% etc. One of my prouder wins was forcing a 4-way draw from a position where I had 2 scs left and no chance of ever recovering a home sc (my two scs were Moscow and Berlin and I was England IIRC). I masterminded a unique stalemate line that happened to make one of my units an integral defender. That's a beautiful end to a diplomacy game, and as much of a win as any solo I've gotten.

For me at least, the draw is a fallback. It's a great goal for weaker powers to have, and a fine fallback for stronger powers to concede if need be. Solo-only sounds depressing for weak countries.

Play for the best result available!


Terminology is important. Though not a win, your performance in that game certainly sounds like quite an achievement, in which you can take justifiable pride. I fondly remember an FTF game I played in a long time ago where I was Germany and ended the game holding Spa and StP.

As a counterexample, I am certainly far more proud of that game and numerous games where I played against top competition and was unsuccessful than I am of the sole game I played on Conspiracy a few years ago. I joined an anonymous game with a bunch of newbies as a favor to one of the players and warned them that it was not a good idea. I won without breaking a sweat, but do not consider it a meaningful achievement.
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Re: For/ against draws

Postby Strategus » 18 Jul 2020, 18:44

David E. Cohen wrote:
Custer wrote:LOL......I think we need to get out the dueling pistols......somebody needs a white glove slap and a challenge!

I'd pay good money for a ring side seat to this sporting event......LoL

Custer

:twisted:


I would prefer sabers, rather than pistols.

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