Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

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Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby Cliff Dancer » 11 Apr 2018, 05:26

OK guys, I need some serious help here - I SUCK (apparently) at opening negotiations.

From my understanding, it's generally fairly good to open very neutrally in the opening, and also typically good not to completely lie to people pre-spring 1901. So typically as England, you'll see NWG/NTH/YOR, as France MAO/PIC/SPA, as Italy VEN/APU/ION.... but in my recent games... disaster!

-Playing France.. DMZ agreed to in ENG/PIE... both broken in spring 01
-Playing England... DMZ agreed to in ENG... broken in spring 01
-Recent PDL League Game (I was not involved in), players open with a Sealion (viewtopic.php?f=820&t=57605&start=20)
-....

It seems that "team play" is becoming more the norm, and that making strong actions towards 1 nation in 1901 is commonplace. Am I somehow magically transported under a rock? When did this happen? And why?

So specific questions:
1.) What is your pre-1901 negotiation strategy... does it generally work? Can you give me game numbers and which nation you were playing so I can see how it panned out?
2.) What are your biggest "turn-offs" from a pre-1901 "proposition" message?
3.) What are your biggest "on" buttons that make you want to take your admirer to the the dance (i.e. ally with them... at least temporarily)
4.) Is "team play" just in my head, or is a real trend? And I mean picking an alliance group of 3 players and just playing down to a draw?

Am I crazy? Like on this point in particular I mean. Feedback wanted/needed/desired.

~CliffDancer
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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby asudevil » 11 Apr 2018, 06:11

I haven't played in a while in a main site game. But I pretty much tell every country I will work with them against some other country. Sometimes it explodes spectacularly and they all realize Im offering everyone to be my alliance. I don't know if you are a survivor fan (American reality TV) but you tell everyone you want to go "final 3 with them"...and that's basically what I do. Everyone adjacent to me ... its "hey lets work together against _________"...people further away its "once we figure out our spheres lets work together against who is left".

I pretty much will ally then with whoever gives me the best replies.

Who seems the most engaged.
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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby mhsmith0 » 11 Apr 2018, 06:49

Cliff Dancer wrote:...
So specific questions:
1.) What is your pre-1901 negotiation strategy... does it generally work? Can you give me game numbers and which nation you were playing so I can see how it panned out?
2.) What are your biggest "turn-offs" from a pre-1901 "proposition" message?
3.) What are your biggest "on" buttons that make you want to take your admirer to the the dance (i.e. ally with them... at least temporarily)
4.) Is "team play" just in my head, or is a real trend? And I mean picking an alliance group of 3 players and just playing down to a draw?

Am I crazy? Like on this point in particular I mean. Feedback wanted/needed/desired.

~CliffDancer


1) Find someone you like and feel you can work well with... and make a strategy that can benefit you both
Similarly, see if you can sniff out anything interesting going on elsewhere, and be willing to react accordingly (like, say, realizing that England is trying for a western triple, and convincing France to take the free pass into ENG ;) )

2) Obnoxiousness, arrogance, unwillingness to come to terms, not responding to messages in a reasonable time frame, making obviously one-sided offers but trying to BS up a "but it's in your interest, I SWEAR", etc

3) Friendliness, willingness to bounce ideas back and forth, willingness to share potentially important information (though too much and I wonder what he's telling everyone else on the board about what I'm saying)

4) I play way more gunboat than regular so can't really speak to it... but I suspect this is the case. IMO the main cure for it is to be better at recognizing team play (both by looking at the moves history and by who's saying what to and about who), and doing what it takes to break it up, either by rallying everyone outside the team together for a common cause or by convincing someone inside the team to break it up for his own betterment.
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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby condude1 » 11 Apr 2018, 06:50

I generally go with maximum honesty off the start. Something like "Hey! I'm just reaching out to every country and seeing what shakes out. I expect you're doing exactly the same :). ". Maybe slightly more diplomatically, but that's the gist.

I generally go for people who are communicative and sincere. Communication is easy to determine, but sincerity generally requires an insider. The easiest way I've found to do this is to have information sharing agreements with some far away power. Say you're England, and everyone responded nicely. Asking around the Western Triangle about where people's alliances lie is useless, since if there's an anti-English opening in store, you'll never hear of it. Instead, talk to Italy, Turkey (probably not Austria, he probably likes Germany more than you, although he might like information about Russia's opening in exchange for Germany's), and ask what the people around them are up to. Generally you get decent information that way. If an anti-you alliance exists, just tell one of your neighbours the other neighbour ratted them out, and voila, instant ally!

More often than not though, my rapidfire messaging is enough to convert at least one or two people around me, and we gang up on the others.

Lots of comms is the #1 thing I judge on though, and the #1 most important trait to open with IMO.
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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby Don Juan of Austria » 11 Apr 2018, 11:25

Lots of comms is the #1 thing I judge on though, and the #1 most important trait to open with IMO.


Pretty much what he said. ;)
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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby Custer » 11 Apr 2018, 11:56

And I've noticed the trend towards 3 ways right off the bat too. Usually not in my favor.

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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby mjparrett » 11 Apr 2018, 14:43

Well your rating suggests you are doing ok for yourself. Not like you are losing every game. And remember - NO ONE wins every game. That is just not going to happen - sometimes you will get 2 or 3 games in a row where you don't catch a break and are eliminated by 1902/3. Just suck it up and move on. I saw a link to this for the PDL AAR - ok maybe England could work on his style but sounds like he didn't do much wrong and was just on the end of a Sea Lion. You just have to take it.

To dance around some of your points, it all depends on what country I am as to my comms/style. I agree lots of messages help - no coincidence that the vast majority of the top 25 players are star ambassadors. Some countries allow you to be a bit more neutral than others with your opening. But very briefly:

If I am F or G - I want to eliminate E
If I am E I am less fussed who I attack first. But I am aware that a lot of other players think the same as the above so I do whatever I can to not be on the end of it
If I am A/I then peace with the other is essential. I will try and kill F (if I'm Italy) or T (if Austria) first
If I am R then I like to attack T
If I am T then I like to attack R

But then obviously you can be talked in/out depending on the style of others, how talkative they are, how sincere you believe them to be etc. So if I am F, but England and I "click" and G doesn't talk much, I have no problem attacking G first. Wary that England is tough to defeat I either stab him early, or if I have a really good relationship with him and breach the subject early. "Lets discuss builds/splits of centres so you can't stab me easily etc."

For opening strategy writing a lot is key, but I always find it pays to offer first before demanding something. Don't just write a "will you support me to Belgium and I'll help you later" offer. I would be inclined to go the other way round; "I will support YOU to Belgium, if you help me secure Sweden (or similar) next year. Maybe they don't and try and trick you, but it means you have an ally for 1901 at least. You can then usually read the board a little better and see if there are other options around.

I also think you need to be true to yourself and style as well. If you are a shy/quiet type, then lots of loud shouty messages will probably seem insincere. You can still write often but get to the point. If you are more a people person, then talk to them about non Diplomacy subjects. Helps break the ice and build rapport. I played my first PDL game, and despite stabs back and forward with Russia (I was Germany), we carried on talking and not always about Diplomacy. Helps build a relationship and can be something to fall back on.

I'll let you decide if my strategy works or not - I seem to end in a lot of draws so am doing ok. My tactics need work though on when to stab if I want to solo, but I usually survive 1901. The biggest turn off would either be the demand and promise of help later, complete ignoring of messages (obvious but plenty people do it still), or real short one liners. "Yeah I'm in". No chat, no cut and thrust. If I believe they will help me I usually try and use them for 1901/2 before stabbing. If the other player in my triangle is much better I will hope to work with them (even if it doesn't fall into my ideal above). Everyone is different to their biggest "ons", but long detailed messages that show tactical nous work for me, but also the banter and non diplomacy chat. People wanting to try something new and "students" of the game "hey I saw this thread on the forum about a new E/R opening - shall we try it" often catch my interest as well - the player isn't just going through the motions.

As for your last point... I think it will be more prevalent in the league. And I think some people are either care bears, or not tactically good enough to stab for more solos. But I don't think there are many games where a 3 way alliance is drawn up in 1901 and plays to the end - most games I see have more cut and thrust than that.

Sorry that is all a bit of a ramble. Hope some of it helps

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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby hedge trimmer » 11 Apr 2018, 14:45

mhsmith0 wrote:1) Find someone you like and feel you can work well with... and make a strategy that can benefit you both
Similarly, see if you can sniff out anything interesting going on elsewhere, and be willing to react accordingly (like, say, realizing that England is trying for a western triple, and convincing France to take the free pass into ENG )

2) Obnoxiousness, arrogance, unwillingness to come to terms, not responding to messages in a reasonable time frame, making obviously one-sided offers but trying to BS up a "but it's in your interest, I SWEAR", etc

3) Friendliness, willingness to bounce ideas back and forth, willingness to share potentially important information (though too much and I wonder what he's telling everyone else on the board about what I'm saying)

4) I play way more gunboat than regular so can't really speak to it... but I suspect this is the case. IMO the main cure for it is to be better at recognizing team play (both by looking at the moves history and by who's saying what to and about who), and doing what it takes to break it up, either by rallying everyone outside the team together for a common cause or by convincing someone inside the team to break it up for his own betterment.

I was going to write a response but then I realized someone had already posted it. Adding to 2) (although you could say that I'm just reiterating "obnoxiousness, arrogance" and "unwillingness to come to terms"):

-Outright threats and demands. They happen way too often, what's up with that? Do they ever work?

-Being neutral/not committing to anything might sound like a decent enough plan, you're just seeing how the game plays out and who you can trust after all, but that also gives your neighbors more time to plot your demise. I think this might be the problem here.

Cliff Dancer, in our recent game I certainly didn't find anything wrong with your diplomacy (you took a single center Germany and took part in a 3WD after all), so perhaps the problem is that you need to commit to an alliance earlier on. I don't think you need to go all out and lie, cheat and stab early, but you need some sort of a plan with one or two of the players. Of course, you'll probably end up lying to someone, but that might be unavoidable. Even if you stay neutral and play nice, someone will always get hurt... and your neighbors might prefer the player with a clear plan.

Does this encourage "team play"? Maybe?
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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby Custer » 11 Apr 2018, 16:05

Short messages doesn't mean much. I tend to be short because I type on a cell phone with one finger. A typer I am not! :cry:

Or, if my cell is unavailable, I still have my trusty stone tablets and chisel. 8-)

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Re: Opening Negotiations... and Team Play

Postby Iggy » 11 Apr 2018, 16:31

First, the PDL game you reference had no "team play" involved. It did have several strong alliances develop but those alliances evolved over time. From my perspective, I had great conversation with everyone in the game to start (I was France). This included good conversation with England - who I actually attacked - as well as Austria and Turkey - who I had little to discuss. The conversation with the latter two was less frequent but enough to fish for some info on how other parts of the board went.

In that game, FGR eliminated England quickly with a Sealion. England didn't do anything wrong, specifically. His biggest flaw was that he telegraphed his plans to all his neighbors - he basically put all his eggs into a WT basket. With Germany and I both feeling very good about knowing what he was really planning, it made it kind of easy for us to take advantage of him. If I have to worry even a little about EG attacking F early, my opening moves are vastly different.

So, FGR and FIR both existed simultaneously to start the game. Neither existed as a guaranteed long term outcome or team play but both shared info with each other. Eventually G got cut out of FGR. I actually like being involved in an early 3 way discussion to get started. I never like being the meat in the sandwich of that triple.

Cliff Dancer wrote:So specific questions:
1.) What is your pre-1901 negotiation strategy... does it generally work? Can you give me game numbers and which nation you were playing so I can see how it panned out?

My plan to start a game is to talk to everyone. I try my best to be mostly honest with everyone. The goal for me is to "feel out" the others near me. See who I feel is the best communicator and who seems to be on a similar page to me. Depends on the country I am on how much I push for specific agreements but almost everyone one has someone they can negotiate a DMZ with and use to gauge the trustworthiness of that partner. My main plan is to just make sure I'm not the guy left out in the cold of a 3 on 1 (FGR vs E, AIR vs T, etc).

It usually works but sometimes you just end up on the short end of the stick. If that happens, I'll try to "rally the troops" and see if I can get someone to flip and/or use me to get an advantage on the others before I'm dead. Sometimes that works and sometimes you just retire early and watch from the sidelines.

2.) What are your biggest "turn-offs" from a pre-1901 "proposition" message?

My biggest "turn-off" is clipped one line sentences that say nothing. If you aren't willing to make any kind of definitive statement on what your moves are, then I'm probably going to be plotting against you ASAP. I don't need a signed agreement or anything like that but I need to have enough info from you to feel like I have some idea of what you are thinking and that I can feel good that a longer ability to work together is feasible. A secondary one would be something where you are dictating exactly what my moves have to be. Saying something like " a move to PIE would be considered an act of war" is fine. Saying "you have to move to X, Y, and Z" probably means I'm talking to your other neighbors about your demise.

3.) What are your biggest "on" buttons that make you want to take your admirer to the the dance (i.e. ally with them... at least temporarily)

Quality messages with substance. Quantity of messages - doesn't have to be a flood, but if I'm asking questions and/or trying to clarify something, I expect at least some dialog on those issues.

4.) Is "team play" just in my head, or is a real trend? And I mean picking an alliance group of 3 players and just playing down to a draw?

I think it's just in your head, mostly. If I'm part of the decision it's usually a draw. But that's not because I set out for one. If you are playing with people that don't surrender and that do communicate effectively, then solos are very hard to come by, IMO. That said, I've never been in any game where there was a "3 way" team formed from 1901 that just cruised to a victory. I've been in plenty of games (here and elsewhere) where discussions have started fairly early that led to a 3 way decision. But far more often than not, the player(s) that end up in a draw, often weren't allied early. Most times you end up with a pair of friends early in a 3 way cooperative mode and then one of those 3 gets cut out of the deal. Then, a new 3rd partner from the other side of the board may end up as part of the draw but that's because one of the 2 ends up too strong and someone else has to help stop the solo.

The game is "meant" to be won by 1 person. But in a game with good players and good communicators, that should be very, very difficult. The best option is one like the PDL game you reference. Russia and France could have worked together to eliminate any other competition and then battled out for the solo. If one side of that pair feels they are outmatched (could be tactically, could be positional, could be numerical, etc), then it's hard to take the chance that you get the short straw and moving toward a draw is your "best outcome" possible.
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