Diplomacy Games are Like Onions

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Re: Diplomacy Games are Like Onions

Postby jay65536 » 09 Nov 2019, 21:37

Haven't had as much time to post as I've wanted, but I'll give it a try now.

This is what I said earlier, before you had finished your third and fourth blog posts, and I stand by it even more now:

jay65536 wrote:I guess I'd say, to me, what you refer to as politics, tactics, and strategy are not stratified, with a top, middle, and bottom, but they're a triangle, all feeding into each other.


Two big things jumped out at me, reading the last article, and they're connected. The first is your claim that you should always assume your opponents are good players who are playing to win. I cannot stress enough how strongly I disagree with that statement. When I'm negotiating with my opponents on a Diplomacy board, one of the things I'm trying to interpret from them is what mistakes they might make as the game progresses. If I can figure this out, then I can form a strategy based on exploiting those mistakes that will help my game.

I think this differs from your claim in a very important respect. If someone says something that is clearly bad from a strategic or tactical standpoint, the advice that is in line with your article is that you should assume this is a lie, because your opponent should know better than to actually believe it. But in practice, this kind of thinking could end up damaging relations with people who might otherwise help you improve your result!

The second, related point, goes back to your second article. In part of it, you discuss this "politics can trump tactics" idea, and you are quite dismissive of it. When you frame it the way you do, it's easy to accept your argument; but in fact, I think your arguments against "politics trumps tactics" are a bit of a straw man. When a great player says that Diplomacy is about trust, not tactics, I think what they (usually) really mean is not that politics can trump tactics, but that politics can determine strategy.

When phrased this way, I think it's clearly true. The reason I think this is because of all the different things I used to believe about strategy and tactics that I have now seen counterexamples to, as played by some really good players. (This includes at least one of the examples in your strategy article itself, that you seem to take as so obviously true that it can safely be used as an example, but that I no longer believe at all!) The bottom line is, what you call the "political" layer of the game, the "outermost" layer, can help players craft strategies (and even sometimes tactics) that are most likely to get them the results they want. In other words, while tactics are more "real" than words, in the sense that words may not mean anything, and while strategy almost always determines tactics, strategy is itself subject to an interpersonal element. The three "layers" aren't really "layers" to me--they are all mixed in together, feeding each other. It's not a one-way street; it's more like they are three points on a circle.
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Re: Diplomacy Games are Like Onions

Postby ColonelApricot » 10 Nov 2019, 03:44

Dear BrotherB, your articles are well researched, well written and well presented. It's wonderful that undoubted experts such as yourself are willing to spare their invaluable time to educate the rest of us. I am sure that many of us can only aspire to meeting you one day across the bored just to have the opportunity to bask in your reflected glory.

And to think all this time I thought diplomacy games are like artichokes!

Yours in adulation.

..CA
Dog of War in ToS
GRU of the Despicables in TTT
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