What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

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What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby BigBert » 20 Aug 2020, 18:16

Suppose you start a game and draw, say, Germany. You have (roughly) two options: ally with England against France, or ally with France against England. After having talked a bit with both, both seem interested. You then decide that you'd prefer to ally with England against France.

At this point, what do you say to France? Do you tell him you've chosen the E/G? Do you go silent? Do you make your messages vague and non-committal? Or do you outright lie to him?

Telling someone you're going to attack him in Spring 1901 would never seem like a good choice. Most players would, I feel, go for the latter option: agree on a G/F opening and simply break your word. But I wonder whether burning your diplomatic capital with a neighbour this early in the game is really wise, and whether there are solid alternatives.

Needless to say, this issue is a much more general point in diplomacy openings: it basically applies to any triangle in the opening of a game. Given the overwhelming number of articles on opening strategies, I've found surprisingly little writing on this issue yet. Any thoughts?
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Re: What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby Audacia » 20 Aug 2020, 18:34

First of all, don't consider them (and certainly don't call them) a victim! There are plenty of opportunities for shifting in the early game and the important thing is to keep your options for alliance wide open. Maybe your "partner" opened poorly or NMRed altogether. In which case, "victim" is your new BFF. You can always claim you had misinformation at evil intentions toward you which caused you to act in that way. The question is, what value can he offer you now (and what might you be willing to do in return).

I would not advocate lying, really at any point in the game. Obfuscate, be noncommittal, whatever it takes not be an actual liar. I opened to the Channel as France one game, pressed into Picardy and took Burgundy. England was at my mercy, and I sold them on alliance as he really had no choice but to try me. The minor player can be even more useful than your original ally. We went on to draw together in that game, but that's another story...

Most of all, keep your options open. Keep talking substantively to everyone. This year's victim, but be next year's ally. You never know.
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Re: What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby condude1 » 20 Aug 2020, 19:39

I do the opposite! Lie outright in Spring '01, but keep talking after the stab. Most people understand if you just say "Sorry about that... let's keep talking in case the situation changes." It's pretty variable though.

Obfuscation is just worse than lying IMO. They're more likely to catch it, but it's just as dishonest. Just own it instead.

I agree firmly with the "Always keep talking" idea.
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Re: What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby sroca » 20 Aug 2020, 19:58

condude1 wrote:I do the opposite! Lie outright in Spring '01, but keep talking after the stab. Most people understand if you just say "Sorry about that... let's keep talking in case the situation changes." It's pretty variable though.

Obfuscation is just worse than lying IMO. They're more likely to catch it, but it's just as dishonest. Just own it instead.

I agree firmly with the "Always keep talking" idea.


I'm the opposite of condude1 here. You outright lie to me and we have zero chance of working together. I'd "fall on my own sword" so to speak. I'd prefer obfuscation because then at least I might get the satisfaction of guessing it and blocking against it.

Silence is a little bit easier to use over the website than in person because you can use the time limit to your advantage. If you're asking about your lies and there's only a few hours before the deadline, there's a legitimate chance that you "just didn't see those messages in time."

In my play I think I fall more towards silence or answering a subset of questions asked to me if there's more than the one, "are you going to stab me."
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Re: What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby Charleroi » 21 Aug 2020, 02:38

I do the opposite! Lie outright in Spring '01, but keep talking after the stab. Most people understand if you just say "Sorry about that... let's keep talking in case the situation changes." It's pretty variable though.

Obfuscation is just worse than lying IMO. They're more likely to catch it, but it's just as dishonest. Just own it instead.


I agree completely.

As a general approach to the game - I detest lying. It's a weird for a diplomacy player to say that, but the only thing that will get you a victory is either (a) being tremendously better than others or (b) having other people want to help you. (A) is really hard to do - unless you're in a game with beginners or NMRs or crazy things. (B) is much easier. And people are reluctant to make plans with someone who lies to them. Being deceptive is not much better - it just seems like a "GOTCHA" afterwards if I can tell you misled me but avoided an outright lie (and its even worse if you point out "but I didn't LIE").

That said - Spring 1901 is different. It's an anything goes turn. Particularly in an anonymous game where you don't know who is who (and can't fall back on past experience of who is reliable and who is not) you're just sort of guessing from feel what's going to go best. My philosophy for 1901 is to talk to everyone, talk to them like an ally, and then just make a choice (or best yet, don't make a choice and see how things play out - works better for France, say, than Turkey).

But after Spring 1901 you have to keep talking. Be direct - don't lie to England if you moved into the Channel from Brest. Don't tell your "victim" that you're about to leave and go the other way if you aren't. But keep talking. Tell him you thought the invasion was your best bet, that you thought you had a good alliance with another neighbor but he turned out to a snake and now you're reconsidering. Commiserate and explain. If your neighbor feels like you're being straight with him (and you keep the messages flowing), there's a good chance you could patch it up and work together in 1902, 1903, etc.
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Re: What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby BigBert » 21 Aug 2020, 09:04

Thanks everyone! I guess the answer is - as always - that it depends :) In this case, it depends on whether you're facing a condude1-type player - who will easily forgive an early-game lie if you're open about it - or a sroca-type player who will fall on his own sword.

Of course then the follow-up question is: how do you figure out the type of player in such an early stage? Is there any way at all to sense whether your opponents will be forgiving? My guess is that this will come down to intuition for 99%.

I will stick to this advice in particular in my next games :) :
Charleroi wrote:
But after Spring 1901 you have to keep talking. Be direct - don't lie to England if you moved into the Channel from Brest. Don't tell your "victim" that you're about to leave and go the other way if you aren't. But keep talking. Tell him you thought the invasion was your best bet, that you thought you had a good alliance with another neighbor but he turned out to a snake and now you're reconsidering. Commiserate and explain. If your neighbor feels like you're being straight with him (and you keep the messages flowing), there's a good chance you could patch it up and work together in 1902, 1903, etc.
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Re: What do you say to your "victim" in Spring 1901?

Postby DirtyHarry » 25 Aug 2020, 14:44

You then decide that you'd prefer to ally with England against France. At this point, what do you say to France?


I think it's important to point out that just because you think you have an alliance with England in S01 doesn't mean that you actually do. England could be lying to you or leading you on, so while you might feel you'd prefer to ally with England at that stage, I would not close any doors until the moves start getting processed. Besides which, there is isn't much you can do to France in S01 anyway, so why antagonize him? It might be worth taking a risk if you have a high expectation of sneaking into Burgundy, but no experienced French player is going to allow that, and if a Burgundy bounce wasn't discussed, then you've likely angered France with nothing to show for it.

Now, if England (or France) opens to the Channel in S01, then you've got something.
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